Scripps, CTAM Going After Movers

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Scripps Networks and CTAM have a new message for cable subscribers: If you move, please order service from another operator — and if your house is on the market, check out Home and Garden Television’s Design To Sell.

The Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing recruited Scripps to produce a series of cross-channel spots for its “Cable Movers Hotline” program.

The goal of the initiative, which debuted in July 2003, is to reduce the number of customers that leave cable for satellite when they move by having customer-service representatives transfer subscribers that call to disconnect service to an operator near their new home.

Scripps recently sent customized versions of the 30-second spots to Comcast Corp., Adelphia Communications Corp., Charter Communications Inc., Time Warner Cable, Insight Communications Co. and Cox Communications Inc. It also produced a generic version that could be used by the other nine companies in the Cable Movers program.

In the Comcast version of the spot, the commercial begins with a narrator telling viewers: “Here’s some great moving tips from Comcast. One, turn off the lights. Two, don’t forget the dog. And three, let us move your cable services.”

The second half of the spot contains a tune-in plug for Scripps: “And to get your home ready to put on the market, get great ideas from HGTV’s Design to Sell, Sunday night at 8.”

The main goal of the Cable Movers hotline is to reduce subscriber churn, a large percentage of which is driven by disconnects made when cable subscribers move.

CTAM senior vice president of marketing Seth Morrison said the hotline has generated more than 40,000 calls per month. “Not every call ends up with a sale, but the nice part is, it’s growing steadily,” he said.

Scripps Networks vice president of affiliate and on-demand marketing Doug Hurst said Scripps hasn’t asked operators to run a minimum number spots for the program, but he expects the Cable Movers co-op to generate wide interest from operators.

“The initiative only works if the whole industry participates. Obviously if one operator promotes the move and the next operator doesn’t, all they’re doing is helping out their brethren without getting it in return,” Hurst said.

Scripps director of affiliate marketing Jeff Wilke said the programmer is looking at other opportunities to market cable services such as digital video recorders and HDTV. Scripps also wants to use its new Shop at Home Network subsidiary to market new cable services for its affiliates.