As far as selling programming to consumers, Jones
Intercable Inc. believes that sometimes less is more.
"A large percentage of cable 'nevers' or
those who have stopped subscribing will buy if you offer them fewer channels," said
Cindy Winning, Jones' group vice president of marketing.
To that end, Jones has added a tier called "Real
Impact" as part of its newly branded "Jones Impact" service.
Real Impact was designed for the nonsubscriber
"elite" who don't watch much television, as well as for those with young
children who don't want their kids glued to the tube.
Instead of the typical entertainment fare, Real Impact
offers only reality-based channels, such as The Learning Channel, MSNBC and The History
"It's important to ensure that you have a product
mix that will satisfy everyone," Winning said.
"We do not market this openly," she added.
"It's a targeted offer. We knock on doors and call and find out what
nonsubscribers' needs are."
Winning said that because many programming contracts
specify penetration rates, the MSO tries to steer most of its customers toward "Full
Impact," which encompasses all of the expanded-basic channels.
Jones also targets "Local Impact" -- a package of
broadcast-network and other local channels -- to direct-broadcast satellite customers.
Winning admitted that the margins on the Local Impact
package are very high, but that's not the main reason why she wants to keep DBS
customers in the fold. In short, it's easier to upsell a basic-only customer than to
break in someone who doesn't subscribe at all.
"We have a subscriber database that's very
powerful," she said. "We can track customers over time and find out what
motivates them. If we lose a customer completely, it's harder to track them."
Even if Jones can never persuade those customers to upgrade
their video packages, Winning said, the operator can still use the database to help sell
telephony and high-speed-data services.