TV Guide Inc. plans to revamp its Sneak Prevue pay-per-view
promotional channel next spring with a name change, new original programming and a new
The 34 million-subscriber network will be renamed Screen
TV, which the company called the first new subbrand for TV Guide Networks. Its focus will
expand from that of primarily a PPV barker channel to a vehicle to help sell such new
services as high-speed-data connections and digital cable.
TV Guide plans to back the network's relaunch with a
multimillion-dollar media campaign. Hollywood talent associated with the campaign will be
featured on the TV Guide Awards show on the Fox broadcast network in March. TV Guide
expects to announce the stars within the next week or so.
Senior vice president and general manager Lucy Hood said
the rebranding effort follows five rounds of focus groups. The network polled about 200
people to get their reactions to both the existing Sneak Prevue channel, as well as to all
of the new concepts in the works for Screen TV. The focus groups included both loyal
viewers and those who admitted that they don't use the channel today.
Current users love Sneak Prevue, Hood said, "but they
don't relate to it personally, and they don't remember the name."
Ever since TV Guide inherited the Sneak Prevue brand
through an acquisition, "We very much wanted a brand that came from TV Guide,"
Tests showed that consumers identify the Screen TV logo
with TV Guide because both use the same colors and typeface. The Screen TV identity was
designed to appeal to users of the on-screen guide, who are typically younger than TV
Jill Taffet of Taffetdesign Inc. created the new on-air
The Screen TV logo includes a silver orb, which moves and
interacts on-screen, at times opening up to reveal the logo of the partnering cable
All consumers tested in the focus groups identified the
name and logo of the MSO partner after seeing the interactive logo, Hood said, adding,
"That's what we're aiming for."
Hood said the interactive orb was designed to convey fun
and irreverence. And in focus groups, some viewers associated the logo with the look of
the millenium. "They see it as the future," she added.
TV Guide plans to give Screen TV a big presence at the
Western Show, introducing some of its new programming and making other announcements.
Programming is likely to include celebrity interviews, more
movie previews and all sorts of short-form programming focusing on film, sports, concerts,
events and anything else a cable subscriber is likely to see on PPV.
Each cable system can request 30-second PPV-movie clips
customized with their local pricing and channel information.
Screen TV will also continue Sneak Prevue's recently
introduced "Tech Toys" segments -- a series of digital lifestyle spots designed
to promote new digital services such as telephony, digital cable and high-speed Internet
The company is working on a second set of Tech Toys spots.
The first spots were introduced during the annual Cable & Telecommunications
Association for Marketing Summit this past summer in San Francisco.
"We want Screen TV to be the destination of choice for
entertainment-savvy broadband users," TV Guide Networks president Pam McKissick said
in a press release. "With the digital era heralding in an explosion of new services
and channels, we believe there will be tremendous audience demand for information, which
we can meet by partnering with operators to deliver localized, cobranded programming and
One focus-group attendee referred to Sneak Prevue and Tech
Toys as "The Power Lounge," according to Hood. She added that Sneak Prevue
viewers tend to be more interested than others in high-tech products such as home theater,
as well as in additional PPV channels.
Sneak Prevue viewers tend to be 18 to 49 years old, Hood
said, and the channel appeals slightly more to males than females. Viewership is heaviest
during primetime and on weekends, with Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. seeing the most
Hood said some operators who have explored the possibility
of starting their own promotional channels have found it more economical to let TV Guide
do the work. Operators "pay pennies for Screen TV," she said, and in exchange,
they receive six-minute packages of local avails, along with customizable promotional