In a blink, Eye on People adds 3 major cable pacts

NEW YORK — CBS Eye on People, the struggling 4-month-old cable network, has signed affiliation deals with three top-10 multisystem cable operators: Media One, Adelphia and Jones Intercable.

The three operators have agreed to roll out the network to a fixed percentage of their subscribers over the next 10 years, says Lloyd Werner, executive VP of sales and marketing for CBS Cable.

10 by 10

He declined to go into detail, but these contracts usually start off with the cable operator guaranteeing to carry the network to about 10% of the MSO subscriber base in the first year, and then adding another 10% each year. The operator pays heavy penalties in higher per-subscriber license fees if it fails to meet the subscriber goals specified in the contract.

Werner says Eye on People will probably never get to 100% of the MSO’s subscribers because he’s permitting operators to place the network on tiers, which the cable system will price separately. If the tier consists of a poor mix of networks, or if its monthly subscriber fee is too high, it may end up in the homes of only about 20% of the system’s sub base.

Public consciousness

CBS hopes to inject Eye on People into the public consciousness, Werner said, through a steady drumbeat of promotional spots on the CBS network and on all of the CBS-owned TV and radio stations. Eye on People still has no deals with six of the top 10 MSOs: Tele-Communications Inc., Comcast, Cox, Cablevision Systems Corp., Marcus Cable and Century Cable.

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