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Optimizing the Brand

Cablevision Systems Corp. plans to give more emphasis to its Optimum brand — which will get a new extension with an electronic-commerce service which will contain the Optimum brand.

Cablevision has been using the Optimum moniker to brand digital video, high-speed Internet and, most recently, voice-over-Internet protocol telephone service.

Optimum Online, the high-speed Internet offering, launched in 1999; the iO: Interactive Optimum digital-cable brand debuted in 2001; and Cablevision was the first major MSO to widely deploy Internet telephony with its Optimum Voice brand in November.

The new twist: More of the same, including new red, blue and black logos. Cablevision is also adding Optimum to all of its trucks, and field workers will get new Optimum-ized uniforms.

“The new branding for these products allows us to present a uniform image for our customers which will carry the benefits of buying all three products for the home,” Cablevision senior vice president of product management and marketing Patricia Gottesman said.

A new Web site,, touts all three products. The site features an ad offering subscribers Optimum Online and Optimum Voice for $64.90 per month, for the first six months of service.

On March 1, Cablevision obtained a trademark that allows the company to market an Optimum-branded electronic shopping mall and customer-loyalty program.

Gottesman last week said Cablevision will launch a new interactive-advertising platform later this year that would allow subscribers to buy products viewed in commercials with the click of a remote.

Cablevision plans to initially sell consumer electronics, software and “content” products through its digital cable and high-speed data services, Gottesman added.

For several years, cable operators have sought to boost revenues by allowing subscribers to buy products with the click of a remote, but no major MSO has ever rolled out such a service.

The costs involved in rolling out electronic-commerce products, coupled with the challenges in integrating the systems with digital cable platforms, contributed to delays.

Insight Communications Co. and Susquehanna Communications tried electronic commerce service in 2001 via ITV provider Commerce.TV Corp., but Commerce.TV folded the following year.

At a Kagan World Media conference in March 2000, Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan predicted that the MSO would eventually rake in more than $150 in monthly revenue per subscriber by offering electronic commerce and other new services.

“It’s not unrealistic to assume that you could see $500 per month [per subscriber],” Dolan said at the time.

While a source close to Charter Communications Inc. said that the MSO may soon roll out an e-commerce service, Cablevision may be the first major MSO to launch such a product when it debuts the Optimum-branded commerce service later this year.

Gottesman wouldn’t say which ITV vendor will supply Cablevision with technology for the electronic commerce service, but one likely candidate is OpenTV Corp.

OpenTV has supplied Cablevision in the past with software and interactive games for digital cable, and the company, which is controlled by Liberty Media Corp., has led a consolidation of the interactive TV sector, acquiring firms such as Wink Communications Corp. and ACTV Inc.

OpenTV CEO James Ackerman declined to say whether his firm was working with Cablevision on the e-commerce service. “Our current work with Cablevision is driven by the customer’s needs,” Ackerman said, adding that it would be up to Cablevision to disclose which vendor it is working with.

Gottesman said Cablevision is also developing a new customer loyalty program under the Optimum brand in which it will offer customers who subscribe to Cablevision’s bundle of products discounts on various products.

“The concept of being able to strike relationships with manufacturers and other retailers themselves who will bring new products to market through Optimum, through our TV service and our Internet service, naturally allows us to offer our customers special deals on timing and price for these new products,” Gottesman said.