Fearnet Set For Spooky Debut Across Channels

Advertisers have no need to worry about getting the creeps when Comcast lifts the lid on its coffin of spooky flicks this Halloween. They’ll have bucketsful of sponsorship opportunities on a new paid and ad-supported horror movie service, set to launch Tuesday on VOD, broadband and mobile.

Fearnet will offer full-length classic and newer films from the scary movie vaults of Lions Gate Entertainment and Sony Corp., along with clips featuring DVD extras and user-generated content.

“Our plan for the first two years is to identify a handful of key sponsors or charter sponsors,” said Shannon O’Neill, senior director of emerging networks at Comcast, noting Fearnet was created with sponsorship offerings in mind.

O’Neill wouldn’t name initial sponsors; however, he said the cable company is “targeting advertisers that we think are a good fit for the genre,” such as electronics, health and beauty, and movie advertisers. The firm is going after 18-34 year-olds with the service, though younger kids are bound to have an interest. Parents fearful of kids watching gory stories that will keep them up at night can block Comcast’s VOD channels or the Fearnet Web site.

Like the VOD offering, the Fearnet site will allow advertisers to run pre-roll and mid-roll ads, graphic overlays, animated logos and intermission sponsorships. In addition, online advertisers will be able to brand the video player, run Web page takeovers and sponsor the game section. At launch, the game section will feature a trivia quiz and award Lions Gate’s “Saw III” packages to those whose brains are oozing with frightening film facts.

“We want the messaging to be as integrated as possible,” O’Neill said, noting advertisers Comcast has approached have not expressed concern about displaying logos or messages within gruesome or violent content. Comcast’s network sales staff will sell ads on both platforms, he said. He expects advertisers to buy VOD/broadband packages as well as buy on each platform separately. Comcast did not go into detail regarding its mobile Fearnet offerings.

Along with movies available to purchase or rent, the site will serve up nine films for free at launch, mainly older titles including ’60s carnival sideshow story collection “Torture Garden” and ’70s psycho-drama “Reflections of Fear.” More recent flicks will be added to the free assortment, which will change each month.

Fearnet will have over 1,000 films from Sony and Lions Gate to pick from, in addition to short clips gleaned from extra DVD footage and music videos fitting the horror theme. According to O’Neill, the Web site will offer a broader selection of older, independent and international movies, while the VOD service will focus on newer releases. The VOD offering will be free to Comcast Digital Cable subscribers.

Comcast aims to make user-generated content and community building components of the site. At first, users will be able to create profile pages featuring avatars or photos. They’ll also be able to post to blogs, and in the future create favorites lists and chat and blog while viewing movies with other fright fans.

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