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Knology Keys on ITV

Cable overbuilder Knology Broadband Inc. views interactive television as a prime application to move more of its 130,000 customers to a digital platform.

As the company moves forward with its initial ITV deployment in its Montgomery, Ala., system, a multimedia promotion in that territory is also getting prepared for rollout elsewhere.

"Old TV, New Tricks" — a campaign comprised of cross-channel TV spots, newspaper ads and direct mail — broke in Montgomery three weeks ago. It will continue through mid-March, then return there this summer or fall.

A similar drive will begin at the end of the month in Huntsville, Ala., site of Knology's next ITV rollout.

Knology plans to launch ITV in all eight of its systems throughout the Southeast by year-end. Montgomery is the overbuilder's second-largest system, and almost a quarter of its subscribers there take digital service. Company officials declined to provide a customer count.

Digital customers in Montgomery have two ITV available options. At no extra charge, they can punch up news, weather, stocks, stocks and games, plus local event and employment information, via remote control. For $6.95 extra per month, the news, stock and weather updates can be personalized to customer preferences, under the "iTVx" banner.

Knology supplies a wireless keyboard to handle those options, as well as e-mail via the television.

ITV is more than an extension of the company's bundle of voice, digital and high-speed Internet access, Knology senior marketing director Taylor Nipper said.

"It's a value-added enhancement and a major retention tool, which adds to our effort to be one company for everything, and everything we provide simplifying people's lives," he said.

S-A, Pinnacor key vendors

Both the basic ITV package, introduced last fall, and the enhanced offering, which became available in January, use Scientific-Atlanta Inc. Explorer set-tops, along with InView, an on-screen information interface S-A created several years ago.

Pinnacor Inc. aggregated the ITV content with assistance from local providers.

"Off the bat, we wanted to provide a fruit basket of applications, rather than focus on one direction. You hope you hit a home run with for everyone," said Knology interactive service manager Mark Adams.

Cross-channel messages animate that point, through a TV set which performs various commands from an off-screen voice. Like a dog, the set sits, stays, and then shows off the e-mail and game capabilities.

Knology airs the spots on various channels. A print execution will appear starting next week in The Montgomery Advertiser, the area's largest daily newspaper. Neighborhood-by-neighborhood direct mail offers will begin in March.

Adams anticipates data on how the campaign impacts iTVx's penetration by early April. About 60 percent of Montgomery's digital customers regularly use basic ITV, he added.