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Comcast Starting Infomercial Net

Feb 9, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Comcast cable systems in Los Angeles on March 29 will launch an all-infomercial channel, dubbed TV101, on digital channel 101, opening a new venue for local entrepreneurs and their self-produced half-hour programs.
In exchange for providing infomercial owners access to its viewers, the multiple system operator’s ad sales division, Comcast Spotlight, will sell them 30-minute blocks on the 24-hour, seven-days-a-week channel. Marty Sokoler, VP and general manager of Comcast Spotlight of Los Angeles, calls this programming “a long commercial.”
Rates Monday to Friday cost between $100 and $400, depending on the time period. Weekend rates run from $100 to $500, depending on the time period.
TV101 will be the region’s first branded infomercial channel. “Most infomercials air on regular stations and are not advertised. They’re just there,” Mr. Sokoler said. “There’s a ton of existing infomercial business available. It’s what I call low-hanging fruit, and we know where to get it.”
Comcast’s goal is to have 60 percent to 70 percent local retail participation, with national clients added to the mix. Local retailers Mr. Sokoler envisions running on the channel include car dealers, surgical eye centers, health and beauty companies and real estate developers, whose infomercials provide in-depth information about their products.
Comcast is aligning itself with production firms to create infomercials for clients who don’t already have a produced show.
“We’ll have bumpers and promos at the top and bottom of the hour, and each show will carry a disclaimer that this is paid advertising,” Mr. Sokoler said. “There might be a client [with 15-minute shows] who wants to buy two 15-minutes back to back. We’re not doing anything less than half-hour investments.”
Two weeks ago the company mailed out letters to prospective clients it knows are running infomercials on television stations, Mr. Sokoler said. The company’s 32 sales account executives from its sales offices in Bellflower, West Los Angeles, Santa Clara and Corona, Calif., are being trained in how to pre-sell this form of paid advertising.
Ever the optimist, Mr. Sokoler predicted the channel, which he said will have a professional look, “will be sold out from the day we launch.”
There will be many production elements surrounding the infomercials, including animation, spins and other movements, plus intros and outros and on-air promotions, all produced in-house.