Multi-Tier Promo Stems PPV Erosion


While the launch of new services, such as video-on-demand, generates considerable excitement, there are still business and revenue goals to reach. Pay-per-view, which is being overshadowed by VOD, is no exception.

Like other cable operators, Cablevision Systems Corp. has experienced a slow erosion in PPV usage and revenue. It set out to create and execute a year-long campaign in 2001 to retain PPV users and maximize revenue for existing customers, even as it moved to deploy VOD on advanced Sony Corp. digital set-top boxes.

Jerry Connolly, Cablevision director of VOD and PPV marketing, said the campaign had two core goals: to fortify and drive usage among existing customers by borrowing key phrases like "must see" TV and "tune in" tonight, and to increase usage by creating product sampling opportunities that would lead to greater repurchase rates.

The MSO designed a multi-tiered strategy consisting of radio ads, flyers and sampling.

The radio campaign consisted of weekly, 10-second sponsorships of area traffic and weather reports. Aimed at the commuter audience in Cablevision's footprint, each commercial showcased specific PPV "tune in" content that night. Messages were rotated each day, matching PPV content with the station's demographics. In any given week 125 to 250 10-second spots would run in morning and evening drive times, although the evening drive times were used more heavily.

The flyer blitz included 15,000 color and black and white flyers distributed each month at Cablevision-owned The Wiz consumer electronics stores, the MSO's walk-in centers, Jeep automobile dealerships and regional festivals and fairs. Over the course of the year, more than 100,000 flyers were distributed. Cablevision also ran 300 TV spots per month to promote the Jeep alliance.

The campaign piggybacked on a previous Cablevision-Jeep alliance, where consumers were given a chance to sample the PPV product if they took a test drive in a new Jeep.

The flyers were designed to complement the radio promotion, reminding people of that month's key PPV content. Each flyer contained a PPV movie coupon to encourage sampling.

The coupons were the core part of the sampling aspect of the campaign, delivered through monthly bill stuffer statements to two million subscribers, print advertisements in TV Guide
and tri-fold brochures distributed at Cablevision walk-in centers, call centers and Wiz stores.

The work paid off. PPV revenue per user rose 8 percent in 2001 versus 2000. The year-over-year customer erosion rate dropped 18 percent. Cablevision also said activity in key event and movie user segments increased 8 percent.

"Although the overall analog PPV business is still in relative decline, the strategy to stem erosion and 'harvest' current customers was successful," Connolly said.