Pizza Partnerships Deliver PPV for Charter

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Hungry for a new way to boost sales without spending a lot of money, Charter Communications Inc.'s Southeast region last year joined with a local pizza chain to cross-promote fast food and pay-per-view movies.

For the cost of printing pizza-box-topper-sized coupons, Charter was able to promote its current PPV lineup and offer a free movie coupon to encourage sampling.

In return, the cable operator placed pizza coupons in its monthly cable bills.

The partnership with Papa John's Pizza was so successful for both sides that a local competitor, Little Caesars Pizza, approached Charter about similar cross-promotions, according to MSO Southeast regional vice president of sales and marketing Robin Forstrom.

2% TAKE RATE

The monthlong PPV promotions earned about a 2 percent take rate in such markets as Greenville, S.C., and Hickory, N.C., she said.

The take rate was close to what Charter would have pulled with a direct-mail campaign, but without the expense of postage, according to Forstrom.

On the promotional one-sheets, Charter promotes three or four hit PPV movies for the month, through pictures, a short synopsis and a coupon that offers a free PPV movie with the purchase of another film.

"The more people you can get to make a purchase, the more likely they are to buy again," Forstrom said. The Southeast region has among Charter's highest PPV buy-rates, she said.

In some Southeast markets, Charter promotes video-on-demand on some of its pizza box-toppers. In those promotions, Charter instructs consumers on how to order a VOD movie by first tuning to channel 999.

The cable operator has even promoted its high-speed Internet service on some pizza boxes, but Forstrom admitted it's harder to track the sales that may be attributed to those ads than it is with PPV coupons.

Charter is able to partner with both Papa John's and Little Caesars as long as the promotions don't overlap within the same month, Forstrom said.

She said Charter would consider other such partnerships that would make sense for both parties.

Because they could help save money, Charter customers saw the pizza coupons in their monthly cable bills as an added benefit, Forstrom said.

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