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My Pet Television Gets Booster at Vet

Through an alliance with veterinary offices, My PetTelevision Network (MPTV) is trying to build some brand recognition even before it goeson-air as a 24-hour, satellite-delivered network.

"This is a way to establish an identity, to driveviewer demand," said cable veteran Michael Marcovsky, president and CEO of MPTV.

In May, MPTV will begin providing videotapes of originalprogramming that will air in 2,000 to 5,000 veterinary offices. MPTV's newprofessional-services division is looking to introduce the network's name andprogramming to the 500,000 pet owners that Marcovsky claims visit vet offices every day.

"The professional-services launch, which precedes thelaunch of our consumer-oriented network, is sure to garner new pet-owner recognition andprofessional endorsements," Marcovsky said. "It will establish what we are tomillions of households."

Marcovsky, a former Time Warner Cable programming officialand former president of Nostalgia Television (now called Nostalgia Good TV), had plannedto launch MPTV as a full-fledged satellite-delivered network in May. But he is still intalks with MSOs and direct-broadcast satellite providers about carriage, so at this point,the launch has been delayed. In the interim, Marcovsky will offer his original programmingin vets' offices, rather than paying to be carried on a satellite transponder now andonly reaching C-band dish owners.

"This is more cost-efficient for me," he said."I can control my own destiny."

Marcovsky said Home Box Office employed a similar strategywhen it was trying to get off the ground years ago, previewing its service in hotels andmotels to build consumer demand.

Last week, MPTV announced that Natural Resources Partners,which is introducing natural dietary supplements for animals, will be using MPTV'sprofessional-services division as the primary vehicle to promote its new products. NRP islooking to reach those in the veterinary profession, as well as pet owners.

MPTV provided free previews of its network to 4.5 millioncable homes in 11 markets last summer, as well as in six markets in 1996. And it is nowairing select programming on fledgling network Oasis Television. In fact, Marcovsky said,one of his bankers recently told him that he had seen MPTV during one of those previews.

Marcovsky envisions his network, which has an alliance withthe Humane Society of the United States, as being offered either as a mini-pay service oras part of a digital package.

Tele-Communications Inc.'s digital-programming serviceHeadend in the Sky recently issued a survey asking its affiliates what networksthey'd like to see added to the HITS programming lineup, and MPTV was one of 22networks that HITS asked its affiliates to rank.

MPTV will recommend that operators that want to offer it asa mini-pay charge subscribers $2 per month, with $1 going to the operator and $1 to MPTV,which will contribute part of that to the Humane Society, Marcovsky said.

MPTV has a number of shows in production now.The network's lineup will include such offerings as Hollywood's Rich &Furry, a celebrities-and-their pets show; Two Tails Up, a feature-film andcontest block; and Petsville USA, a home shopping segment.