TV Guide Drives Digital Penetration

Add TV Guide Channel to the ever-growing list of cable networks lining up to help affiliates bolster their digital-cable penetration.

The network's latest digital-acquisition campaign, built around its daily "entertainment-guidance" show, What's On?,
kicked off on Jan. 7. It's set to run through Feb. 3.

"We developed this marketing campaign to help our affiliates drive digital penetration beyond technology's early-adopter by appealing to a broader base of television enthusiasts," said TV Guide Television Group and TV Guide Networks Inc. president Pam McKissick.

What's On?
was chosen to anchor this campaign because it spotlights the best 10 to 15 programs on TV each night, including those on digital cable, McKissick said. It also peaked at a 1.0 household Nielsen Media Research rating last year.

The campaign will have strong affiliate participation, McKissick said. The systems involved will reach 20 million households, or 35 percent of all TV Guide Channel homes. About 17 million of the 20 million homes are located in the top 50 markets, she said.

The campaign should be quite visible: Committed systems are slated to run the promotional spot at least 300 times on major cable networks. TV Guide Channel will match their efforts by running the spot for 300 additional plays within the same window.

Though they didn't offer specifics, TV Guide Networks executives said What's On?
helped its affiliates reach or surpass their year-end goals through the "Win with What's On?
Sweepstakes," which was conducted during fourth-quarter 2001.

What's On?
previews showcase more than the most promising dramas and sitcoms. They also highlight movies, music and sports shows, blended with interviews and backstage footage.

In a daily "Editor's Pick of the Night" feature, TV Guide
writer Mark Schwed plugs one standout program. Viewers are then encouraged to download a streaming-video segment from the magazine's Web site (

TV Guide Channel, which has been billing itself as "Entertainment that sells it all," has also worked to bolster affiliate revenues on the ad-sales end. It offers 10 local commercial minutes per hour, which the company says is five times more than most networks.

That inventory has "provided a solid revenue stream for us," said Kim Wright, regional manager for Comcast Corp.'s Savannah, Ga., system. Wright said the fourth-quarter sweepstakes and other "ongoing promotional efforts … support us in bringing on new business and providing incentives for annual contracts and incremental revenue."