Nets Team With Ops to Plug High-Speed Data

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Five cable networks have embarked on marketing programs designed to help MSOs push their high-speed Internet and digital-cable products.

Court TV, CNN/Sports Illustrated, Comedy Central, Oxygen and TechTV have all teamed with operators for promotional efforts aimed at bolstering broadband penetration or driving digital upgrades.

The Court TV campaign is linked to the network's Nov. 4 NYPD Blue
marathon, as well as a behind-the-scenes documentary chronicling the police drama's eight-year run.

Participating operators will receive a cross-channel promotion spot and an online ad, both of which will plug a tie-in trivia contest. The promo will begin running late this month and the online component will start Oct. 28, said Court TV vice president of marketing Evan Shapiro.

Participating affiliates will also stage their own trivia contests, offering cash and NYPD Blue
merchandise as prizes. Some of those items will be autographed.

Among the early-bird respondents were some unspecified Insight Communications Co., Cox Communications Inc., Charter Communications Inc. and Knology Inc. affiliates, said Shapiro.

In an electronic-mail message, Court TV introduces "NYPD Blue: Internal Affairs" as a unique opportunity for affiliates to pique subscribers' interest in cable-modem service.

"We're creating a broadband need," said the message, which notes that consumers can access Court TV's Web site for exclusive cast-member interviews, outtakes and video clips from the long-running ABC primetime series — all "designed specifically to help you sell broadband service."

Originally, the behind-the-scenes series-retrospective special — a co-production of Court TV and ABC — was intended simply to promote the November ABC premiere and Court TV's off-network reruns. A different half-hour show, which looks ahead to the new season's story lines, is slated to run late this month on ABC affiliates.

As part of this partnership, Court TV also will air ABC's promo spots for NYPD Blue
's new season, starting Nov. 6.

Cox has also linked with Comedy Central and CNN/SI. The MSO recently launched a co-branded retail initiative with Comedy in eight markets.

The Comedy promo is designed to boost consumer sampling of Cox Digital Cable and the Cox@Home, Road Runner and Cox Express high-speed Internet services. Demonstrations are taking place at Cox's retail outlets in three markets and at Circuit City Stores Inc. outlets in the remaining five markets.

Cox is giving away a goodie bag of network premiums worth $60, and free tickets to "The 2001 Rants & Raves Tour" — a live comedy show co-hosted by Cox and Comedy. It features stand-up comic Lewis Black, a regular on Comedy's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

'Pigskin' Pitch

Elsewhere, several Cox systems have teamed with CNN/SI — part of Cox Digital Cable's sports and information package — on a radio campaign meant to spark digital upgrades. The "Pigskin Promotion" (Oct. 15 to Nov. 11) is playing in four key college football markets — Gainesville, Fla.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., said Turner Network Sales senior vice president of marketing Coleman Breland.

A 60-second radio spot featuring CNN/SI college football analyst Trev Alberts will call attention to a drive-time, call-and-win contest.

TechTV last week said it will bow The Screen Savers, a quarterly, 90-minute "inside look at broadband." The first outing — dedicated to helping affiliates sell high-speed data service — will air Nov. 8 in primetime.

The network is offering MSOs an attendant broadband marketing kit that includes a taggable spot meant to drive viewers to the live program, said vice president of affiliate sales Peter Gochis. It also includes a taped 30-minute "best of The Screen Savers" that can be shown daily during TechTV's pre-emption window, or as a tape loop for use at retail locations or on barker channels.

Oxygen Media is offering the "Xena, Be a Warrior Princess Sweepstakes," a multi-layered promotion built around Xena: Warrior Princess. Affiliates can customize the campaign for local marketing and ad-sales efforts, and to boost subscriber-acquisition and digital upgrades.

Sponsored by General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet division, the sweepstakes will bestow 10 national grand prize winners with a "Caribbean Adventure" trip for two on a Windjammer Cruise. Mountain bikes also will be awarded to one winner in each participating market.

Entries will be gathered from Oct. 26 through Nov. 26. An Oxygen spokeswoman said that more than 100 affiliates will participate in the sweepstakes.