Road Runner Offers CNN Freebies

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Cable News Network is supplying Road Runner cable-modem subscribers with free-of-charge access to three subscription video offerings from its Web site, CNN.com.

The arrangement — which encompasses the CNN NewsPass, CNN QuickCast and CNN Uncut Internet offerings — is the first such deal between a traditional cable network and any broadband Internet-service provider.

"The important thing is it's a good model for people who are coming on with broadband connections. There is high-profile content that's been tailored for the Internet," said Kevin Cohen, senior vice president and general manager of interactive and enhanced TV at Turner Network Sales.

Added Road Runner group vice president of marketing and programming Greg Dipaolo, "We're looking to drive as much value as we can and improve retention."

CNN and Road Runner are both owned by AOL Time Warner Inc.

Earlier this year, CNN began charging subscribers to view video clips on its site, though written articles are still available for free. For $4.95 per month, consumers can register for CNN NewsPass directly at CNN.com and obtain access to up to 25 clips per day.

QuickCast and Uncut are syndicated services, available only through such outlets as Real Networks Inc.'s 800,000-subscriber SuperPass service.

QuickCast is a three- to five-minute hourly newscast updated 12 times a day. Uncut provides long-form footage of news events, press conferences and interviews.

All three services will be now available to Road Runner's more than 2.3 million subscribers at no incremental charge, Cohen said.

Current CNN NewsPass subscribers who are also Road Runner customers must visit CNN.com to unsubscribe from the service.

Content lull

There were a handful of broadband content plays prior to the failure of data-over-cable provider Excite@Home Corp., but the sector has been fallow for nearly two years — a victim of the Internet bust and the online advertising slump. Even as broadband penetration surged, content was slow in coming.

"We didn't have a subscription service until last December," Cohen said. "We created a set of content available for Real Networks," and a subscription service "made the most sense to follow here."

He added: "Video that is coming from branded entities like CNN, in many cases unique video, that's something that has a value to it. And we want to let affiliates know there is a value to broadband content. Broadband content will help drive uptake in Internet access."

The CNN QuickCast logo appears on the Road Runner home page, which 90 percent of Road Runner subscribers cycle through each month, Dipaolo said.

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