SoapNet Marches First Promo Down Aisle

June is traditionally a popular time to tie the knot, so SoapNet has slated its first local ad-sales promotion around that month's programming stunt: "Unforgettable Weddings."

Each Sunday in June, the network will revisit four hours of memorable nuptials from past ABC daytime soap operas. A one-hour, clip-based special will air before and after each marriage marathon.

Weddings from All My Children
will run on June 9, with nuptials from One Life to Live
slated for June 16. Port Charles
will be in the spotlight the following Sunday, while ceremonies from General Hospital
are scheduled to air June 30.

But GH's most famous wedding — that of Luke and Laura — won't be part of this stunt, though it may be included in future promotions.

ESPN vice president of affiliate ad sales and new business Jeff Siegel, who also oversees the distaff-targeted SoapNet, said 35 affiliates reaching some 5.4 million insertable subscribers will participate in the sales promotion. All told, just over 10 million of SoapNet's 23 million cable subscribers are insertable, he said.

Time Warner Cable will be the most involved in "Unforgettable Weddings." Siegel said the MSO's systems in Albany, N.Y.; Austin and Houston, Texas; and Birmingham, Ala. are already on board. SoapNet hopes to add its New York and Orlando, Fla., systems.

Charter Communications Inc. will participate in several unspecified markets, Siegel added, along with Cablevision Systems Corp. in Litchfield, Conn.

"[The systems] are selling it in now," so most local sponsorships have not yet been set, Siegel said. The day-spa category is one that's being pursued.

The programmer's audience — made up mostly of working women — should draw more than just the usual suspects in sectors such as home furnishings, according to Siegel. It should also attract categories that don't traditionally buy soaps, such as real estate, automotive and financial, he said.

Aside from one national grand prize — a trip for two to Las Vegas — the sweepstakes will offer a Sony Mavica digital camera in each participating market. The inclusion of local-market prizes is important to affiliates, as it can spark retail traffic, Siegel said.

In another bid to drive in-store traffic, SoapNet will give away 200 sponsored CDs in each market —"a compilation of classic love songs," Siegel noted.

The network will supply the 35 affiliates with promotional and sponsorship tune-in spots, as well as in-store point-of-sale sweepstakes posters, displays and entry forms.

Local sponsors have until May 20 to sign on.