Ops Fish for Shark Ad Revenue


Discovery Channel's 11-year-old "Shark Week"
local-sales promotion still has teeth, according to a sampling of cable systems last week.

Discovery ad-sales and affiliate-marketing executives
termed the stunt "a consistent audience-pleaser," with the latest one built
around eight primetime specials to air Aug. 9 to 15 -- five of them new.

A sampling of operators indicated that support remains
strong for Shark Week.

Phil Johnson, general sales manager of Cable Advertising of
San Antonio, said the theme-week programming has proven to be a sales success for
"the past seven or eight years," with the local zoo as "the backbone"
of its sales effort.

Less enthused was Bill Dugan, account executive for Time
Warner Cable in Syracuse, N.Y., who said the system sells "a couple of local
businesses," but its sales are "not huge."

Jennifer Reichenbach, Discovery's director of local ad
sales and national-accounts marketing, urged affiliates to target supermarkets, car
dealers, travel agencies, back-to-school retailers (given the August timing) and, of
course, theme parks/zoos/aquariums and sporting goods/scuba shops. She also suggested
selling various local packages -- one perhaps including Discovery's own Titanic
, which is set for Aug. 16.

In Los Angeles, the popularity of the show even cost
interconnect Adlink a sponsor: Sea World, Adlink's local sponsor last year, has
bought nationally, so the company must find a new buyer, said Vicki Lins, Adlink's
marketing director.

"There's always a lot of interest," agreed
Jeff Carter, Midwest regional vice president at Tele-Communications Inc.'s TCI Media
Services, in large part because "Discovery does a good job of getting the word out
... for their No. 1 sales promotion of the year."

"It's not the NFL [National Football
League]," observed Ron Pancratz, vice president of ad sales at Cable One, "but
it's definitely branded, and it has a premium value."

Much of the MSO's typically strong sales success is
"fueled by Discovery's aggressive promotion," Pancratz said.

This year, that will include Discovery promos inviting
viewers to participate in a "Spot the Fin & Win Sweepstakes," for nightly
grand prizes -- trips to "Great Shark Zones of the World."

Operators also can get customizable ad slicks, postcards,
point-of-sale displays and spots to conduct local contests, tagging retail sponsors, and
they can order $55 "Shark Week Party Packs" (including T-shirts and an
inflatable pool shark) as the local prize. The postcards (four cents apiece) are aimed at
luring nonsubscribers with a special Shark Week subscription offer.