OnScreen Media Summit: Time Warner Cable To Debut 'SignatureHome' Package Next Month

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New York -- Time Warner Cable wants to give its most profitable customers the white-glove treatment with the November launch of the "SignatureHome" service tailored to high-end customers.

"This is not going to be the same package with a few frills hanging off it," Time Warner Cable chief marketing officer Sam Howe said in a keynote presentation at Multichannel News/B&C's OnScreen Media Summit here on Oct. 28.

Howe, interviewed by Multichannel News editor in chief Mark Robichaux, declined to disclose many details of SignatureHome.

But he said a key part of the service revolves around specially trained installation technicians, who provide a more personalized, high-touch experience for new customers. "You can create clues about that when they arrive -- and it's not because they wear white booties," Howe said.

The installation component of SignatureHome is designed to fix a concern of new cable customers: the perception that installers don't know what services they ordered. "We will have the installer go through the home and put Post-It notes on where things will go," Howe said. "They will say, ‘Hey, you said Emily's room will get a DVR, too.'"

Added Howe, "It's not enough to give you a guarantee that if we mess up you get the first month free. That's old."

According to Time Warner Cable's June 2010 trademark filing for the term, SignatureHome may have a "TV Everywhere" element to it. The application covers "downloadable television programs... delivered via a telecommunications network, including using broadband devices and wireless devices," among other things including home and network-based digital video recorders.

The SignatureHome service is part of a larger "reframing" Time Warner Cable's corporate identity. The MSO recently undertook an 18-month exercise, code-named Project Mercury, to evaluate whether to change its name or introduce a new brand.

Time Warner Cable found that it had about $1 billion of equity in its existing name -- and that the value declined if "Time Warner" or "Cable" were removed, according to Howe. So the MSO decided to retain the name but made some tweaks, making more prominent use of the "eye and ear" logo and adopted a new typeface.

Time Warner Cable's new logo

"It's not just a logo change or a freshen-up of the bundle," Howe said. "It's nothing less than the reframing of your cable company."

As part of Time Warner Cable's customer-segmentation strategy, the MSO earlier this year reorganized its operating divisions, consolidating five divisions into two East and West groups.

With the revamped marketing strategy, "the bundle is going to recede into the background," Howe said. "The bundle isn't unique anymore... They want the value, but people are not walking around saying, ‘I want the bundle.'"

TWC hopes the "eye and ear" logo to become as recognizable as the Nike swoosh or the Target bull's eye. With the refreshed logo, Time Warner Cable is launching a new ad campaign that carries the tagline, "We're moving technology forward, to bring you back to the things you love."

Howe showed the audience a spot in the new campaign featuring two grade-school kids wearing 3D glasses who lock eyes from across the cafeteria, and end up sharing a huge bowl of popcorn watching a movie on a 3DTV.

Asked whether the SignatureHome strategy would drive up TWC's costs, Howe acknowledged that it would take "more thought and more hand-holding -- but it's more of what we should be doing."

Time Warner Cable's high-end customers, he noted, cost half as much to support as those who represent less than half the revenue. "We've suffered from a one-size-fits-all approach," Howe said. "We have to align revenue and expense, but that doesn't mean we are going to disadvantage someone who is paying us less."

Along those lines, Time Warner Cable expects to introduce a new video package within the next 60 days geared to low-income households. Howe noted that over the past year, some consumers who switched to cable during the 2009 digital TV transition are going back to over the air.

"We're going to address the question of the lower-end not being able to afford pay TV," he said.

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