USA Network is bringing Miami and The Hamptons into play behind the affiliate promotion supporting its new Thursday night summer lineup.
The "characters" network's "Royal Rewards" promotion affords a host of high-end prizing tied to the settings of spy series Burn Notice, located in the south Florida city, and which will serve as the lead-in to rookie show Royal Pains, about a doctor serving the famous Long Island enclave. The shows hit USA's air on June 4 at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively.
Parent NBC Universal has designed the promotion as a flexible, turnkey opportunity to drive either local ad sales or affiliates' marketing pushes for high-definition service.
The initiative turns on participants redeeming points toward an exclusive online shopping experience for a wide range of high-end Royal Pains and Burn Notice merchandise themed to the cities where both series film. Partners that use the promotion as a marketing opportunity to drive HD upgrades will also have the option to receive an exclusive Hamptons or Miami-themed catered reception.
Brian Hunt, senior vice president, marketing and sales strategy, TV networks distribution, NBC Universal, said that a total of 68 systems are on board in Tier 1 (DMAs 1 through 25), Tier 2 (26 through 50) and Tier 3 (above 50) markets. Among the participating MSOs; Comcast, Charter, Cox, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Suddenlink, Cable One, GCI and Buckeye.
"We went out with the promotion a few weeks ago," he said. "We think that it will be highly successful and it's going well so far."
Most MSOs are using the promotion to drive local ad sales, with retail outlets a particular target group. He said the effort can be used to push account executives to bring in new business, or reward clients.
"Affiliates can incentivize advertisers to buy local spots on Burn Notice and Royal Pains and then get great prizes that they can use for their businesses," said Hunt. .
The effort represents the first promotion tied to hit series Burn Notice, which stars Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen, a blacklisted spy. The concluding episode of the second half of its sophomore season on March 5 averaged 7.61 million viewers on a live, plus 7-day basis, the highest-total on USA in eight years. The series has been cable's top performer among adults 18 to 49 and 25 to 54 in 2009, according to network officials.
"This is a chance for advertisers to tie themselves to a show with great ratings and the USA brand," said Hunt, noting that Royal Pains has performed at the highest level among focus groups and earned the top Q rating of all original series USA has tested in recent years. "Burn Notice is a great lead-in, but we really expect Royal Pains to stand out on its own."
Royal Pains centers on the young and talented doctor Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein), who after one principled decision in the ER is blacklisted by the New York medical establishment. He is coaxed by his younger brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) to head out to The Hamptons for the summer season kick-off weekend. At a party at a mega mansion, Hank jumps into action when a guest requires medical attention that only he is able to diagnose and finds his calling as a "small-town" doctor to this privileged community and its working-class residents.
Partners that utilize the promotion to drive local ad sales will commit to running a total of 250 cross-channel spots, 125 for each show between May 21 and June 4. In return, they can redeem points earned from the promotion for an exclusive shopping experience online. In keeping with the premise of Royal Pains, merchandise includes an Apple Macbook, an LP Stainless steel outdoor grill, Tiffany & Co. gift cards and women's sunglasses. Burn Notice goods includes an iPod Nano, a widescreen GPS navigation system, Sony Playstation 3 video game console, an LCD HD television and a Panasonic laptop. Affiliates can check out the high-end tchotchkes on the Royal Rewards shopping site, which features attendant settings -- a Miami loft and chic Hamptons home -- for the two shows, at www.usaroyalrewards.com, when it goes live later this week.
Partners that use Royal Rewards as a marketing opportunity to drive HD upgrades will commit to running a total of 250 spots consisting of 125 Burn Notice and/or Royal Pains cross-channel premiere spots between May 21 and June 4, and an additional 125 series cross-channel HD product spots from June 5 through July 2. In return, these partners can redeem points for the themed merchandise online, or earn points toward a customer service appreciation catered reception themed to either the Hamptons or Miami.
Tier 1 markets 1 through 25 are eligible to receive 2500 points, while Tier 2 markets 26 through 50 are eligible to receive 1000 points and Tier 3 markets 50+ are eligible to receive 500 points. "The sizes of those markets are bigger and the spots are worth more," said Hunt, in explaining the differential.
The deadline for affiliate sign-up is Friday May 15. While most of the spots in the Tier 3 markets have been filled, openings remain in a dozen of the top 25 DMAs and there also are availabilities within the Tier 2 group, according to Hunt.