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'Wives' Join the Pitch

Attention: There is still time for affiliates to enlist in Lifetime Television's local ad-sales promotion tied to its upcoming original series, Army Wives.

The women's-targeted service has marshaled a Los Angeles viewing party for the show, which debuts on June 3 at 10 p.m., as the driver for a local ad-sales promotion in 60 markets. The campaign is geared on affiliates airing 300 taggable tune-in spots from May 20 through June 10 to build and then maintain exposure for the series, based on the Tanya Biank book Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives.

UNDER PRESSURE

The 13-episode first season, from The Mark Gordon Co. and Touchstone Television, stars Kim Delaney (NYPD Blue), Sally Pressman (Shark), Brigid Brannagh (Over There), Brian McNamara (The O.C.), Sterling Brown (Starved), Wendy Davis (Commander in Chief), Drew Fuller (Charmed) and Catherine Bell (JAG) as a group living with their families on an active army post under the pressures that military life places on the partners left behind.

Vice president of distribution Sue Panzer said “Lifetime's 5-Star Army Wives Experience” marks the network's largest local-sales effort to date and the first involving an original series.

“This is a strong show that we really feel will resonate in the market. We want to generate exposure for Army Wives and believe it will produce strong local ad sales for our affiliates,” said Panzer. Previously, Lifetime has conducted ad-sales campaigns around its breast-cancer advocacy initiative, acquired series like Will & Grace, events on Lifetime Movie Network and earlier this year with its quartet of original telefilms based on Nora Roberts best-sellers.

The 5-Star winners from each of the 60 markets will receive a weekend for two in Los Angeles with plane, hotel and dining accommodations. The proceedings will be capped by a sneak viewing party of the show's finale during the second week in September with Biank. Other celebrities and stars are expected to attend the gathering as well.

Panzer said Lifetime's ad-sales program is flexible, giving operators the choice of using the L.A. weekend as a consumer sweepstakes play, in which affiliates could push viewers to an online Web entry via the taggable promos; proffering it as a reward to a top client spender in the market; or using it as a staff ad-sales incentive mechanism.

OPERATORS COMMIT

Lifetime has secured commitments from systems owned by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems Corp., Bright House Networks, Insight Communications, Mediacom Communications and Suddenlink Communications. However, several markets remained open at press time.

Panzer added that Lifetime would open the local effort to other operators outside those 60 areas, sans the prizing.

“There are certainly opportunities to drive incremental sponsorship sales against this great show,” she said, averring that Army Wives could pull in business from across an array of categories.