NFL Net Plans Super Bowl Blitz

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With about two weeks until the Super Bowl, the NFL Network is rolling out a major marketing campaign aimed at boosting consumer awareness and, it hopes, driving more distribution.

The channel's message is simple: The Super Bowl may spell the end of the season, but, on NFL Network, "The season never ends."

The centerpiece of the campaign will be a 30-second spot during the game on CBS and a national radio spot. The TV spot comes out of the league's inventory of ad time. That's primo promo space: Other advertisers have forked over $2.3 million per spot to advertise in the game. (Ads have also been running in Fox's and CBS's NFL games since mid October.)

Inside Houston's Reliant Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 1 , the NFL Network will contribute programming shorts, which will be shown on the video scoreboard before the game and during breaks in the action. Some will feature star anchor Rich Eisen interviewing NFL players on their favorite Super Bowl moments. A ticker that snakes around the stadium will continuously promote the channel, and NFL Network took out an ad inside the game program.

"You can't buy this kind of coverage and access at the Super Bowl," said NFL Network's new senior vice president of consumer marketing, Judy Fearing, a former ESPN executive. "Fans at home and people at the game will be very aware of NFL Network." If another company tried to replicate the efforts, she estimates it could cost tens of millions of dollars.

So far, the NFL Network is carried on DirecTV and has a deal with Cablevision's startup DBS company, Voom. On cable, Charter Communications is the only distributor. Charter plans to launch the network in February but may offer a preview during Super Bowl week in some markets.

Around Houston, the NFL Network will be all over town. The channel and Voom are partnering on 45 bus advertisements. And, via Voom's system, NFL Network will be available in the media center and other venues. The net will also be piped into 14,000 Houston-area hotel rooms.

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