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USA Launching Movie Night

Dec 22, 2003  •  Post A Comment

USA Network is planning to introduce a hosted-movie franchise on Thursday nights.
Hosted movies, such as TBS’s “Dinner and a Movie,” are attractive to programmers because they reinforce the network’s brand, and to advertisers because they create opportunities for product placement and integration.
“USA’s Ready for the Weekend,” which launches Jan. 8, already has attracted a full slate of advertisers, including Warner Bros., DreamWorks, Expedia, Choice Hotels, Mars, Verizon and Home Depot.
The Thursday night movie package features hosts Mati Moralejo and Kinga Phillips, who provide viewers with ideas for weekend entertainment. They are shooting their segments in locations that include New York, Los Angeles, Hawaii and Seattle, offering localized tips and general options.
One week the hosts will be in Hawaii, because that Thursday’s film, “Six Days, Seven Nights” was filmed there. That week’s sponsor is DreamWorks, and Josh Duhamel, the star of the studio’s new film, “Win a Date With Tad Hamilton,” will appear with the hosts during commercial breaks.
The hosted segments are inexpensive to produce, said Elizabeth Porter, senior VP, alternative programming, at USA. They are not designed to boost ratings of the films but to remind viewers of what channel they’re watching. “The focus is the film, but packaging it will allow us to reinforce our brand in it,” she said.
The format also makes it easy to integrate sponsors’ products.
“The weekend idea could be anything, from health and beauty to cars to theatricals. We can plan because we know [who the advertisers are] months in advance,” she said.
Being part of USA’s “Ready for the Weekend” won’t cost advertisers more than regular advertising.
“Generally speaking, it’s added value,” said Ed Gentner, senior VP, group director, national broadcast, at MediaVest. “Everyone’s got movies on their schedule. This is a way to make them more attractive to advertisers by integrating their products into them.”
USA’s Thursday night movie titles include “Terminator 2,” “Apollo 13,” “Primal Fear,” “10 Things I Hate About You,” “Out of Sight” and “GoldenEye.”
USA Network has been running a daytime hosted-movie package called “Before & Afternoon,” featuring makeovers of people and rooms and such.
Separately, USA also is nearly done selling the integrated sponsorships to the second edition of “Nashville Star,” which kicks off in March.
Jeff Lucas, head of ad sales for Universal Television Group, said General Motors, Cendant and Expedia have already re-upped, and Wal-Mart and McDonald’s were likely. T-Mobile has been added as the telecom sponsor. Mr. Lucas said each sponsorship package is unique and declined to put a value on them.