MediaOne Begins Premium-Net Drive


MediaOne this week is taking the wraps off
"NexTV," a new, $8 million video-packaging and branding campaign, which was
designed to create more consistency in the MSO's premium-network offers nationwide.

"In general, our premium business has not been as
healthy as we'd like," said Judi Allen, senior vice president of marketing at
MediaOne, "and this is our effort to reverse a negative trend."

Allen said some MediaOne markets have done better in
selling premium services than others, for a variety of reasons. Pricing, packaging and the
amount of attention paid to front-line training and incentives all play roles.

MediaOne's video-product group led a companywide effort to
share the most successful practices among the MSO's systems and to create a new program
for marketing NexTV, Allen said.

One "absolutely critical" part of the effort, she
added, involves front-line employees who the MSO put through extensive training to prepare
for "what we hope will be an onslaught of phone calls." To keep them motivated,
MediaOne will offer a number of long-term and launch-oriented sales incentives, including
cash awards and free trips.

MediaOne is selling five levels of NexTV packages. Each
includes a new-product tier, an interactive programming guide, roughly 10 channels of
impulse pay-per-view, an advanced-analog set-top box and a remote control.

The top tier, "NexTV Ultra," will typically
include multiple screens of Home Box Office and Cinemax, plus Starz!, Encore, Showtime,
The Movie Channel, Sundance Channel, BET Movies/Starz!3 and The Independent Film Channel.

MediaOne will promote the NexTV offer heavily, but
broadcast ads won't talk specifically about pricing.

"The direct-broadcast satellite world does this a
little differently because they have a different situation than we do," Allen said.

Prices and programming will differ in each region. Allen
said it was unrealistic to think that NexTV pricing will ever be consistent throughout the
country, because premium rates are a reflection of basic rates, which vary depending on
different regulatory structures.

MediaOne will launch NexTV with an awareness media campaign
that introduces the brand and the packaging. After that, direct-response television ads
will aggressively ask customers to pick up the phone and place an order.

Cross-channel promotions will also direct subscribers to a
free MediaOne-branded weekend preview of HBO, Showtime and Starz! programming later this

"Between the broadcast-media buys, radio,
telemarketing, direct mail and the very aggressive use of cross-channel promotions,"
Allen said, "it'll be hard for our customers not to know that this is

MediaOne is also offering anyone who signs up for a new
NexTV premium service a free month of incremental premium channels.