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'Rave Reviews' for Co-op's Web Store

Seven months after building a portion of its Internet outpost to showcase marketing materials that members could order at a discount, the National Cable Television Cooperative says it's pleased with the activity generated so far.

More than 600 cable systems and individual employees have bought materials from the site since they became available online last October, according to CBC Marketing Group, the Louisiana-based company NCTC retained to design and manage the site.

At any given time, 10 to 15 visitors look at an assortment of marketing-support products for sale, including channel lineup cards, billstuffers, postcards and doorhangers.

Ripe for pitching

Most of the materials are designed for use in retention campaigns or in pitching new digital-tier subscribers.

Selections made by viewers can be customized with system logos, channel logos and other details before ordering, with office delivery promised three-to-five business days after the order is processed.

"It's been going exceptionally well," said Mark Elliott, CBC's business development director. "We'll sometimes get 30 people checking the material out simultaneously. The cooperative is happy, and some non-co-op members have talked to us about developing similar Web sites for them."

A few Cox Communications Inc. systems have done just that, and CBC has responded with sites specifically for their use, Elliott said.

The materials display is located within the member-services section of NCTC's Web site (

After accessing the site and section, viewers log through to the display with a user name and password. In eight clicks or less, an item can be selected, customized, proofed and ordered. Users get a finished proof of what they order in bulk within 48 hours.

A set of 500 postcards in four-color format costs NCTC takers 28 cents per card; other postcard designs are available for as little as 7 cents per card. Bill stuffers, at 500 pieces a set, cost 19 cents per stuffer.

Rocky Mountain Cable, which operates 12 systems in Colorado reaching about 6,000 customers, has used the site often and is pleased with the outcome. The company has ordered bill stuffers, print ads and channel cards, and all have made a positive impact on Rocky Mountain's digital-service sales.

"They get rave reviews from me," said Wayne Vestal, Rocky Mountain's marketing director. "The material is solid and CBC's people are attentive to individual needs. Our digital-service direct-mail brochure was conceived to show the services off in a menu fashion, which is somewhat untraditional compared to other brochures. They listened to what we wanted and did the job."

Net subsidies

NCTC's Web offering has come through several times for Rocky Mountain, when material promised by various programmers didn't get delivered in time. "The programmers like the quality of those materials so much, they reimbursed us for the cost," Vestal said.

At CNC's end, Starz Encore Group and several other programmers have agreed to subsidize some of the cost.

In the near future, NCTC will introduce audit notices, counterpoint advertising geared to direct-broadcast satellite service customers, and bundled marketing materials (for sales of digital channels, high-speed Web access and telephony) on its Web site. All those products should be available for Web ordering by late summer.

Elsewhere in the system-resources sphere, Rainbow Media Holdings relaunched the affiliate portion of its AMC Networks Web site last week. The presentation ( features information and display materials for future promotions involving AMC and WE: Women's Entertainment, as well as for Fuse, which is scheduled to premiere its converted format from MuchMusic today.

Rainbow will showcase the Web upgrade at the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau sales conference in Chicago this week.