'Instant' Gratification for A&E Affils

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A&E Television Networks wants its affiliates to go tapeless.

When its upgraded affiliate Web site, AETNjustclick.com, officially launches on Nov. 1, AETN says it will become one of the first programmers to begin digitally disseminating all of its programming and marketing materials, including promotional tapes, to many of its distributors.

By cutting out the costly production, dubbing and delivery of promo tapes, AETN will not only reduce those expenses drastically, but rapidly arm its affiliates with information.

“We live in a world of instant,” said AETN vice president of affiliate marketing Jennifer Ball. “The revamped AETNjustclick.com will enable our affiliates to access more of our information in real time.”

With distributors able to access the site via a secure pass code, Ball said, all of AETN's affiliate base has the capacity to view spots and content on the site and download low-resolution content that can be used to help develop sales presentations. Three-quarters of the programmer's carriers will have access to broadcast-quality downloads of spots for editing and broadcast. All video can still be ordered via the traditional tape systems, said AETN officials.

The site will serve as a centralized location to materials for all nine AETN networks and its on-demand product, relative to program descriptions, schedules, videos, art, logos, Web banners and ad-sales information. Menu choices facilitate navigation between networks.

The site trades off the backbone of Comcast Digital Media Center's Ad Distribution Network, which was established in July 2006 and transports content and spots via the high-speed Internet platform. Comcast Spotlight, the ad-sales organization for the nation's largest operator, has been using the network to receive network promos and commercials, which it customizes for local ad sales applications.

To that end, AETN officials believe that the digital-delivery capabilities of its modernized site will generate more awareness and, ultimately, incremental local ad sales.

“The rep knows about Dog the Bounty Hunter and The Sopranos, but this way he can find out about some of A&E's other shows that might be an appropriate opportunity for a local business,” she said. “[The site] will expose [ad-sales] personnel to more of our programming that will help them build better presentations and drive business.”

Insight Media corporate promotions manager Kristi Dutler said that was the case during a test earlier this year with Comcast-owned networks in Insight Communications markets.

Although Insight declined to specify additional revenue the test accrued, Dutler reports that the cable operator's local sales personnel are asking, “When is it going to be available?”

She gave the ADN system high grades. “Tagging has become a much easier process,” she said. “You can take a 15-second spot from a network and more easily attach the promotion from the local hair salon that has a coupon offer.”

And there's an even more fundamental benefit: “It eliminates the 'Where is the tape question?' You don't have to worry that the tape didn't arrive in time, or that someone took it and put it on [his or her] desk and then went on vacation and no one knows where it is.”

For its part, Comcast Media Center is trying to build its client base. CMC vice president of sales and marketing Leslie Russell said the unit was in negotiations with “four cable operators of various sizes” to establish their own ADN-driven portal that could serve as a digitized clearinghouse for network spots.

Similarly, she said CMC was in “active” negotiations with five other major programming groups to build ADN-supported affiliate Web sites that would offer distributors similar applications as AETNjustclick.com.

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