Sci-Fi Channel hits Europe

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Creatures from outer space, monsters and intergalactic warfare are coming to Europe via the Sci-Fi Channel.

Starting Nov. 1, the advertising and subscription-funded Sci-Fi Channel Europe launches as a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week service in 78% of the U.K.'s cable TV networks, plus the densely cabled regions of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Scandinavia. The channel will have a total potential European audience of 14.3 million.

"We shall eventually roll out into the rest of Europe," said Barry Frey, managing director of international sales for Sci-Fi Channel owner USA Networks.

And there will be nothing alien about most of the programming--sourced from Hollywood and Europe.

It will begin telecasting the movies "Star Trek--The Wrath of Khan" and "Apollo 13--The Real Story," a documentary on the background to Tom Hanks' latest film. There will also be science fiction, fantasy and horror programs, plus cartoons targeting children during the weekends.

Mr. Frey said he is assembling an ad sales team for the channel. He plans to market the Sci-Fi Channel with European trade press, poster campaigns and an Internet Web site from Euro RSCG, London, using the theme "TV from the other side." Coca-Cola Co., Sega Enterprises, Lego Systems, Casio , Alka-Seltzer, Scott Paper will be on the channel for the start-up, among others.

"Our 16-to-44-year-old audience will be highly desirable to advertisers," he said. "Sci-Fi Channel Europe viewers will [by nature] be super-innovative and early adaptors of new electronic and technology products."

Sci-Fi Channel Europe hopes to attract advertisers such as makers of electronic consumer products, computers and youth-oriented products such as Coca-Cola Co.

Mr. Frey said research shows that while 30% of the U.S. population are sci-fi fans, the proportion rises to 61% in the U.K. A similar survey is being done for the rest of Europe.

Separately, Star Interactive, the new media arm of ad agency Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, London, is launching what it claims is one of the first commercial applications of Hot Java, the new Sun Microsystems software designed to speed the movement of material on the Internet.

The recently launched Star Interactive is using Hot Java to create a new World Wide Web site to promote the Sci-Fi Channel Europe and Dominion, the existing Web site of the original Sci-Fi Channel in the U.S. The Sci-Fi Channel is a client of Euro RSCG.

Hot Java, which makes Web sites more interactive, claims to be a major step toward making the Internet a more flexible tool for marketing products.

"In terms of appearance, current Web sites are still ponderous, slow and static. With Hot Java, things will move around. It's the next stage forward," explained Philip Swain, Star Interactive's marketing director.

The new Web site will also be linked to "other very high traffic sites," a move expected to generate visits from more than half a million Web users, according to Mr. Swain.

Copyright October 1995 Crain Communications Inc.

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