Blockbuster, CBS link up

CBS and Blockbuster Video are teaming up for a promotion that will give Blockbuster customers a free monthly 10-minute video that hypes CBS programming and current movies and music, the two companies announced yesterday.

The Hot Pix video will he hosted by Mark McEwen, weather and music reporter for “CBS This Morning.” It will debut in June, with 200 tapes going to each of Blockbuster’s 2,100 stores.

According to Tom Gruber, senior VP of Blockbuster, each cassette will turn around at least five times, getting the promotions seen in 2 million households monthly.

The vid will include approximately six minutes of movie promos, three minutes for CBS and one minute for musicvideos.

George Schweitzer, CBS senior VP of marketing and communications, said that to give viewers impetus to watch Hot Pix, the promos will be produced exclusively for the tape — with possible behind-the-scenes shots or celebrity interviews — and a monthly $ 10,000 sweepstakes prize will be awarded.

There will also be one sponsor each month, though Schweitzer insisted there will be no straight-out ads. The product pitch will be part of a giveaway or product demonstration or making-of for a well-known commercial. Sponsors also will provide product coupons.

CBS will produce the tape and Good News Video Network, which will sell the slots to the movie studios and record companies, will distribute it.

According to Basil Hero, CEO of Good News, 90% of participants in test markets returned the tape with the sweepstakes number filled out, indicating they had watched it. Gruber said there will be an implication that customers will be charged for not returning the tape, but he refused to say whether it would be enforced.

CBS will promote Hot Pix on-air, in print and on radio, and in other promotions like the CBS College Tour.

And, while this is a multiyear agreement, Schweitzer said, the top priority is to help launch the fall lineup. In September, there will either be a longer tape or a separate CBS tape.

At other times of the year, Scheitzer said, the tape could promote series, specials or “a new franchise coming to CBS,” which indicates that David Letterman might pop up on the tapes in July or August.

Gruber said Blockbuster benefits in three ways: It is getting a premium gift for its customers, the customers have to come back to the store to return the sweepstakes ticket, and Blockbuster will receive exposure through the on-air promotion by CBS. There is no additional media buy commitment by Blockbuster on CBS, Gruber said.

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