Some programmers looking to cut costs rely too much on the Internet to keep in touch with cable companies and aren't spending enough time meeting affiliates face to face, a new survey finds.
Most cable networks — including ones that closed local and regional affiliate-sales offices in recent years — have built affiliate Web sites used to distribute marketing materials.
Affiliates find some value in the sites, but some think they need improvement. Some also say they want more interaction with sales representatives, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing survey found.
Part of an effort to cut costs and reduce paperwork, specialized Web sites allow affiliates to download ad slicks, radio scripts and other materials. But CTAM CEO Char Beales said the survey of 68 cable marketers finds customers still need the human touch. “The systems are still crying out for their reps to guide them through this,” Beales said.
Networks that have consolidated local and regional affiliate-sales offices include Starz Encore Group, Home Box Office, Showtime Networks Inc. and MTV Networks.
Respondents also said networks should differentiate affiliate and consumer Web sites and eliminate features such as pop-up screens, CTAM director of research Linda LaVigne said. CTAM doesn't disclose feedback on specific networks in the survey, which it's selling to members for $3,000.