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Local Advertisers on NFL Net VOD Roster

12/19/2004 4:00 PM Eastern

While all of the Xs and Os haven't been finalized, NFL Network's video-on-demand game plan for 2005 will include local sponsorship opportunities.

NFL Network vice president of media sales Chris Fuller said cable operators will likely have the chance to bring in local and regional advertisers to attach their names to some of the team specialty content or information and interview segments that are currently available to MSOs offering the NFL Network on Demand VOD package.

"We expect that all cable operators with VOD will have some local sponsorship opportunities next year," he said.

Such efforts would complement what figures to be an expanded roster of national advertisers that will be affixed to the network's on-demand game-highlights package, one of the most popular VOD offerings. Since week nine of the current NFL campaign, T-Mobile USA Inc. has been running 15-second ads prior to each pro-football-game highlight that viewers select, up to 16 per week.

Adam Shaw, senior VP of distribution at NFL Network -- which inked a carriage deal with Adelphia Communications Corp. last week that includes the service's on-demand product -- said that while it "might be a little complicated to do," more MSOs should have the ability to insert locally next year. He noted that Comcast Corp. has been doing some of this on a "market-by-market" basis.

Eyeing the upcoming playoffs, T-Mobile could retain its highlight-package position. "We took it to them first. They're evaluating it internally," Fuller said.

Bob Flood, executive VP and director of national electronic media at ZenithOptimedia, which secured the sponsorship for T-Mobile, said: "We're still tracking the delivery. A decision will be made on that and consumer feedback."

Next season, NFL Network anticipates casting a wider VOD game-highlights net. "We're thinking of rotating two advertisers per weekend," Fuller said.

As for T-Mobile's current sponsorship, terms of which were not disclosed, Flood said the highlights package was "a low-clutter, great environment.” He added that MSO data "come in a little slow, lagging behind each week's performance," but the shop has received information about the number of viewers and duration of their visits.

For the most part, T-Mobile has run brand spots, and lately, it has been touting its new "Sidekick" product. "We didn't start this until midseason, and our plans have been morphing. We've been trying different formats, but we have yet to engage anyone by trying to push them to a T-Mobile Web site," Flood said.

Comcast VP of marketing for new video products Page Thompson said the NFL Network VOD highlights package has delivered more than 4 million viewers across Comcast's VOD-enabled footprint from September through the end of October.

He noted that T-Mobile's sponsorship was just one of a number of advertisers that have been involved with the MSO's on-demand offerings -- a list that includes The Coca-Cola Co., General Motors Corp. and KFC Corp. Advertising has encompassed regular spots, as well as invitations to long-form information that has been presented under the heading of the “GM Showcase,” Thompson said.

September