INSP Hopes to Inspire Local Ad Sales

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Looking to add value for MSOs, INSP — The Inspiration Network will begin offering local advertising avails in April.

Next month, officials said, Inspiration would begin offering cable systems one minute of time per hour every hour, at the 58:30 mark. That will make it the first channel in the faith category to offer local ad opportunities to systems, said network executives.

The channel has been contemplating this gambit for some time, The Inspiration Networks senior vice president of marketing John Roos said, but it faced challenges in finding the right time to set aside amidst its religious services programming and other long-form fare. Inspiration carries programs by 75 different ministries, representing 25 different denominations.

“We know operators are looking for this kind of opportunity at a consistent time slot. We’ve found ways to carve out this period for them on a regular basis,” he said, pointing to ad potential offered by churches and church groups and Christian schools and academies, as well as attendant bookstores, other religious retailers and church-equipment suppliers.

As for the network itself, Inspiration’s national avails vary by daypart, with some periods proffering 10 to 12 minutes per hour and others only 60 or 90 seconds over that span.

Although its reach of 21 million cable homes has constrained Inspiration’s sales force against more fully distributed networks, Roos said INSP has been building its advertising base with schedules ranging from financial institutions, automakers, consumer and packaged-goods companies, as well as religious-oriented organizations.

INSP will discuss the local avails in its presentations to MSOs in the months ahead, Roos said. The network will also broach the subject of extra commercial time within its weekday teen block, which includes five original series centering on music and extreme sports, and its children’s programming, featuring original shows Discovery Jones Expeditions and Super Snoopers.

Additional system spots could also open up within popular Saturday-night block, showcasing a variety of music shows, notably Christian Artists Talent Search, which Roos dubbed “our version of American Idol.”

Inspiration Networks vice president of affiliate relations marketing Wendy Vinson will head a training effort to help local ad sales identify clients and pursue opportunities within the faith category, Roos noted. Inspiration also plans to build local sales programs replete with character appearances, or tie-ins with concerts, extreme sports competitions, religious and family festivals.

Roos believes these programs will not only help systems bolster their revenue base, but grow Inspiration’s subscriber count in the process.

“We think this will help operators and open up more systems to us,” he said, adding Inspiration’s long-term goal is to reach the 60 million to 70 million subscriber plateau.

Over the past 15 months, Inspiration officials said the network has added some 4 million cable subscribers.