CAB conference focuses on brands

Cable executives got another chance to hype branding at an industry ad conference in New York Tuesday, but they showed differences in strategies.

"Brands aren't put out in a press release or decided in a boardroom,"
Lifetime Television head of research Tim Brooks said at the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau's
annual gathering. "It has to come from the consumer."

While Lifetime is the poster child of successful targeting,
Turner Entertainment president of sales and marketing Mark Lazarus argued that
broad-based networks can do it, too. "You can build brands based on programming,"
Lazarus said, pointing to Turner Network Television's "We Know Drama" campaign that he said ties
together the channel's sports properties, off-network series and original projects.

Brooks countered that branding in blocks could be more effective.

That's the tactic USA Network is moving toward with its "Action Wednesdays."

USA Cable president Doug Herzog said he'd hesitate to brand more than three
nights per week.

Also at the conference, ESPN executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing
Sean Bratches said ESPN2's distribution growth in the early 1990s came from demand
from consumers.

But Bratches did not address ESPN's harsh clashes with cable and direct-broadcast satellite
operators in its attempts to secure distribution for ESPN's splinter

But, the panel's moderator, CAB vice president of network sales and marketing Jerry Dominus, did not raise the issue.

ESPN is trying to get another one of its channels, ESPN Classic, reinstated on
EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network. The channel has been dark on the DBS
system since Jan. 1.