Nets to plug each other's broadcasts

E! Entertainment Television Networks and Turner Network Television are cooperating in an unprecedented promo campaign for the upcoming Screen Actors Guild Awards, for which E! will telecast red-carpet coverage and TNT will air the ceremony.

As part of the agreement made between the basic-cable nets, which share no corporate ties, E! will encourage viewers — during its “Live From the Red Carpet: The 2001 SAG Awards” preshow from 4-8 p.m. Sunday — to tune into TNT’s telecast of the seventh annual SAG Awards, which follows at 8.

In on-air promos leading up to the events on both E! and TNT, the nets will plug the two programs.

“It’s actually a quite rare thing to do, and we think that’s why cable operators love it — two networks celebrating a cable-only event,” Stephen Croncota, E!’s senior VP of marketing, said of the plan. He noted that co-owned cable and/or broadcast nets have been known to cross-promote, but not two competing cablers.

“Our response from the cable operators is that they love it. It helps people understand the value of having cable.

“We figured, Let’s make this night as big as we can,” he added. “We think collectively we’ll make the SAG Awards bigger and bigger.”

The promo partnership also calls for E!/TNT co-branded print ads in national trade and consumer pubs and advertising on both nets’ Web sites.

In addition, TNT is in the throes of a $3 million-plus top-50 market affiliate sweepstakes promo leading up to the awards.

E! will air an episode of “E! True Hollywood Story” opposite the awards show on TNT, “for people who love to watch what happens on the red carpet and don’t care so much for what happens once the people go in,” Croncota said.

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