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USA, Sci-Fi brands new

Cablers' ad push includes first b'cast media buy

The USA Network and its sister Sci-Fi Channel are in the midst of a $7.5 million on-air TV branding campaign that includes USA’s first-ever broadcast media buy.

USA’s end of the advertising push is a $5 million collection of both image and tune-in commercial spots that began running Monday on independent broadcast stations in the top 70 markets — potentially reaching 70% of all adults in the key demo group aged 18 to 49. A number of stations are UPN and WB affiliates.

Spots are running in daytime, early fringe, late fringe and on weekends but not in primetime on the indie stations. The only prime buys are on ESPN during a trio of preseason football games this month as well as during the “SportsCenter” program.

Sci-Fi Channel’s campaign has been running since July 8 in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Seattle and Cleveland, at a $2.5 million pricetag.

Andrew Besch, senior VP marketing for USA Networks, said the decision was made to make USA’s biggest broadcast TV buy in its history because, “We have a tremendous schedule and a lot of successful original programming, and we feel the time is right to get out there with our branding message.”

The satirical USA Network spots comprise a series of takeoffs on cliched scenes from films, ending with the slogan “The Cure For the Common Show.” USA is hoping to elevate the position of its brand so it becomes as identifiable as the Sci-Fi Channel, “which is tougher when you’re trying to brand a broad-based entertainment network,” Besch said.

The Big Three broadcast webs continue to bar advertising for such basic cablers as USA, viewing them as competition. However, they do accept spots from premium cabler HBO.

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