Turner Unit Eyes Local Focus

Author:
Publish date:

Turner Network Sales, Turner Broadcasting System
Inc.'s affiliate-marketing and local-ad-sales arm, is shifting its strategy in an
attempt to reach more cable operators.

The move reflects the MSO-heavy background of Samuel Howe,
TNS' senior vice president of affiliate marketing since April. Howe has held
marketing posts for Telewest Communications in the United Kingdom and for Cox
Communications Inc.

TNS' mission is "more than just doing the
deal" with MSOs or advertisers, Howe said last week. "We've got to create
value together," he added, so that there will now be a heavier emphasis on coupling
marketing with local-ad-sales programs, as well as on programs customized for MSOs, rather
than on just "one-size-fits-all" programs.

For example, he said, TNS will develop a Cable News
Network/CNN Headline News program in the first quarter of 1999 for an unspecified top six
MSO that wants to bolster those networks' local-ad-sales pace closer to Turner
Network Television's growth level.

TNS will mount a "client-intensive" direct-mail
and fax campaign, targeting the top 30 advertisers in each of this MSO's markets,
Howe explained.

The first wave will promote CNNNewsStand,
perhaps including copies of the magazines that are partners in the series; two others will
tout documentary TheCold War and Headline News.

Moreover, TNS, cognizant of the fact that many operators
lack Internet expertise, is developing a joint venture with an unnamed Internet partner in
order to help operators to create or improve their local Web sites.

Another example is TNS' selling of TBS
Superstation's primetime special, Champions on Ice. In each of the 50 cities
on this first-quarter tour, operators will get 50 VIP tickets to the show, plus funds for
a party for local accounts and opportunities to sell local sponsorships tied to the
stadium event.

Turner had asked for local-adaptation input from MSOs and
operators earlier this year, but Howe said "no conclusive direction" emerged
from that. Now, TNS is looking for input from local-advertising experts.

This past spring, TNS sought local-ratings input from
affiliates so that it could develop software on one-dozen target groups of TBS and TNT
viewers -- the aim being to get systems' sales forces to sell prospective clients on
niche programs, and not just networks. Howe said that plan has been temporarily shelved.

That, in part, may await the filling of two TNS positions
-- vice presidents of local ad sales and of regional marketing. The former would replace
Jim Klunder, who left in April to become general manager of the Philadelphia Interconnect.

Related