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Ops, Panasonic Push HD

5/30/2004 8:00 PM Eastern

Several major cable operators are teaming up with Panasonic Corp. to launch a major HDTV marketing effort tied to NBC’s August coverage of the Summer Olympics, sources familiar with the plan said last week.

The major MSOs and Panasonic will pool their resources on a media buy that will include both broadcast and cable ads for Panasonic HDTV sets. Local cable operators will offer consumers who buy a Panasonic HDTV discounts on their cable bills, two sources said.

The strategy is similar to a marketing campaign eight major cable operators ran with Samsung Electronics America Inc. in March, geared toward CBS’s coverage of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Samsung and Adelphia Communications Corp., Bright House Networks, Charter Communications Inc., Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc., Insight Communications Co., Mediacom Communications Corp. and Time Warner Cable spent more than $10 million on that marketing campaign.

The Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, which organized the “March Madness” campaign with Samsung, is also coordinating the cable agreement between Panasonic and 10 major MSOs.

CTAM senior vice president of communications Anne Cowan confirmed CTAM is organizing a marketing effort with the major MSOs and Panasonic tied to Olympics coverage on NBC’s broadcast and cable networks. Cowan declined to discuss the effort further, citing competitive concerns.

CTAM expects to detail the HDTV marketing campaign in an announcement with Panasonic by the middle of June, Cowan said.

Panasonic officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The Samsung and Panasonic agreements represent a new marketing strategy for cable operators: teaming up with consumer electronics companies to market new products such as HDTV.

September