Oscar Fever Heats Up for TCM, E!

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The major movie studios aren't the only ones caught up in Oscar fever each year, as Turner Classic Movies and E! Entertainment Television also tie programming and promotional stunts to Hollywood's big event.

TCM's eighth edition of "31 Days of Oscar" marks the network's biggest promotion yet in terms of affiliate-marketing support, with the overall value from all quarters "in the millions," said TCM executive vice president and general manager Tom Karsch.

Aside from offering systems its own breezier, monthlong Oscar-related fare, E! this year will add a tie-in "E! Live from the Red Carpet: Academy Awards Sweepstakes" for affiliates. One significant difference from TCM's event: The E! campaign offers a local ad-sales component.

TCM will shift the marketing thrust for "31 Days" toward young adults by airing irreverently humorous promos, rather than its typical campaign geared for more serious film buffs, said Karsch.

"We've always put [ '31 Days'] on a pedestal," he said. "It was time to have some fun with it, and do something a little different, and call attention to the festival in a nontraditional way."

Besides, "In cinema [ads] you need to be entertaining," he added, making reference to TCM's new theatrical spot. Due on 2,700 movie screens in New York, Los Angeles, Denver and Atlanta,
the commercial — set at a retirement home — opens with a senior citizen playing the Rocky
theme on an accordion, followed by people mimicking lines from the film.

The spot will also air on broadcast affiliates in New York and Los Angeles and across the Turner networks.

In another new wrinkle, TCM will team with sister network, Home Box Office on a 40-market affiliate push designed to generate awareness and ratings for "31 Days" and to drive "HBO/Max Pak" premium-cable subscriptions for HBO and Cinemax. Consumers who become digital-cable customers during this promotion will get the two premium services either for free or at a discount for 31 days.

TCM will devote its entire schedule to a record 339 movies that have won Oscar statuettes or nominations, including 52 new to that stunt and 14 fresh to TCM

E! has signed on more than 200 cable affiliates, EchoStar Communications Corp. and 17 interconnects for its promo, which offers one grand prize — a trip to Hollywood, with a post-Oscar party and a Beverly Hills tour — as well as a local prize for each participating market, according to senior vice president of affiliate relations Brad Fox.

It's "hard to calculate" the local ad dollars generated by E!'s annual Oscar promotion, said Fox. "The affiliates wouldn't commit inventory to it if they couldn't get the return," he noted.

The March 24 awards ceremony will air on ABC.

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