Saturday, May 13, 2006

Watch 'Survivor' on us, GM tells cable viewers

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Watch 'Survivor' on us, GM tells cable viewers

Automaker to sponsor 'On Demand' programs on Comcast in Detroit and in three other cities.

Bill Vlasic / The Detroit News

If fans of the "Survivor" reality series miss this Sunday's episodes, they can catch them "on demand" for free a day later -- courtesy of General Motors Corp.

GM said Friday that it will sponsor free, On Demand viewing of "Survivor Finale" and "Survivor Reunion" starting Monday and running through Aug. 31 on Comcast cable systems in Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago and Philadelphia.

Video on demand lets digital subscribers watch archived shows and movies at any time. But the concept of offering prime-time network shows for free is new.

Such shows usually cost 99 cents to view on Comcast's On Demand, but the GM sponsorship allows cable customers to access the CBS "Survivor" shows at no additional cost.

The deal between Comcast, CBS and GM marks the first time that an advertiser will sponsor on-demand programming, according to the three companies.

"We at GM are excited about this opportunity to help bring CBS programming to its loyal fans through Comcast on demand for free," said Betsy Lazar, GM's executive director of media and advertising operations.

The "Survivor" On Demand programs will have three GM commercials that run before, in the middle and at the end of the shows.

The commercials will encourage viewers to access the "GM Showroom" through the On Demand system. The GM Showroom features videos of various GM cars, trucks and SUVs.

By linking up with Comcast and CBS, the automaker will be able to target audiences of specific programs that have favorable demographics for car buying.

"We're offering advertisers new ways to reach very targeted and engaged audiences," said Charlie Thurston, president of Comcast Spotlight.

It also gives GM an avenue to reach potential customers who are in the habit of digitally recording TV programs and skipping commercials.

"For GM, it's another base to cover and they want to see what they get out of it," said Jim Sanfilippo of AMCI Inc. in Detroit, who does marketing consulting for several automakers. "They can control the space and they don't have to be intrusive."

He said the Comcast deal is likely one of a number of initiatives that GM is launching to cut through the advertising clutter.

"In media, the worst thing you can do is stand still," he said. "The game is changing all the time."

The announcement is the latest step in the link-up of CBS and Comcast. Earlier this year, the broadcast network agreed to offer some of its prime time programming for on-demand viewing on the cable system.

You can reach Bill Vlasic at (313) 222-2152 or


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