Nets Provide Ops With Local Motion

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Youthful-skewing networks MTV2 and G4 are proffering co-branded Web content to local MSOs as a means to help operators sell advanced products.

As its latest initiative to support its affiliates' broadband services, MTV2 last week unveiled "Local 360," its localized, co-branded, multi-platform effort designed to promote such new-product offerings.

For its part, Comcast Corp.-owned videogame-enthusiast network G4 will unveil a similar destination campaign at the National Show this week in Chicago, under the banner, "Games Go Better with Broadband."

While Local 360 is the network's internal designation for the initiative, it will be dubbed "MTV2 Music Scene," when promoted via cross-channel and micro-sites to consumers.

MTV2 general manager David Cohn described MTV2 Local 360 as part of "an over-arching marketing platform" designed to drive viewers across cable and the Internet by making the co-branded sites into local music destinations.

The first five analog markets to sign on for this month's launch, Cohn said, are Adelphia Communications, Cleveland; Insight Communications, Louisville, Ky.; and Time Warner Cable in Memphis, Tenn. Operators are being finalized in Baton Rouge, La., and Seattle, an MTV2 spokesman added.

MTV.com will create and maintain the micro-sites, absorbing the costs.

In a mockup of the Insight site, the line "Insight Louisville Music Central" was prominent. MTV2 touted "Top Artist News," upcoming local concerts, streaming video from 2$Bill concerts, "MTV2 Sneak Peek Clips" and other content. The site also offers a local newsletter on "what's hot."

Insight trumpeted "lightning-fast connection" to the Internet that's "50 times faster than 50k dial-up service." Copy then adds, "Click here to sign up now."

To appeal to an audience that's "forward-thinking and tech-savvy," Cohn said the music on these sites will include full-length video streams, Internet radio and local top 10 countdowns.

Cohn said the channel uses a unique file-server technology to provide local content – both video and graphics – that's seamlessly integrated into its national feed. Moreover, MTV2 will produce local video footage, including V-jay segments addressing viewers in each market. There also will be on-air crawls urging viewers of a video to also catch that clip on the micro-site, Cohn added.

This initiative emanates from the channel's "Spankin' New Music Promotion" that has touted new music acts and affiliates' new products the past two Novembers, and will return again this fall.

G4, after initial discussions with MSO affiliates Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Insight Communications, MediaCom Communications Inc. and members of the National Cable Television Cooperative, anticipates that "Games Go Better," will premiere on at least 10 systems around the country within the next 30 days.

One location may be Time Warner Cable in Cincinnati, where a test version of selected G4 content has been available for a few weeks. Comcast will be onboard this fall, but where has yet to be determined.

Much of the "Games Go Better" content available to local systems will be differentiated from what's shown on G4's own Web site, said Dale Hopkins, the network's senior vice president of distribution and sales.

Game news, reviews and previews will be spotlighted, along with industry-leader and celebrity interviews, trailers from upcoming game-inspired movies and clips from G4 shows.

Some content will be customized for an individual market, such as event calendars, a game review featuring a developer born or working in that area and reader polls. This summer, content also will be organized around "G-Phoria," the channel's big event in Los Angeles July 30, celebrating the videogame scene.

"What we see again and again is that the gamer generation (ages 12-34) are multitaskers. They simultaneously watch TV and play games on the PC," said Hopkins. "With operators promoting high-speed access, having our kind of content is a perfect tool for them to expand their broadband-service reach, because our audience is their perfect customer."

In the promotional area, G4 will assist affiliates in Web high-speed campaigns, as well as provide information features on cable modems and related matter, and cross-promote Internet service providers available through cable. "Exactly what we'll do will be worked out with each system," Hopkins said.

Also under discussion with operators: local Web advertising options and tie-ins with G4 national clients, such as electronic game retailer EB Games.

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