Discovery Goes Toe-to-toe With The BOB

Cable: Destination for long-form ads?

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%%STORYIMAGE_LEFT%% Discovery Networks is strongly considering transforming one of its current networks into a channel devoted exclusively to short films and long-form commercial content. Joe Abruzzese, director of ad sales at Discovery whispered the concept into the ear of Madison + Vine at last week's Association of National Advertisers' Television Advertising Forum in New York.

Discovery's venture would be a direct competitor with the Brief Original Broadcast network, or BOB, a 24-7 digital cable station based in Littleton, Colorado that was announced last summer by Olivier Katz, a former "South Park" executive producer. BOB was originally scheduled to have launched on March 3rd on various cable and satellite systems reaching over 12 million homes, but Katz has pushed back the launch until this summer.

Abruzzese said that the proposed Discovery network would be launched within a year. "It's a great ground to do two things. One is to cultivate great commercials and the creative juices out there. And secondly on the programming side, maybe we can find the next Steven Spielberg."

Abruzzese praised the creativity of "The Wedding," a long-form Budweiser ad from Anheuser-Busch—which last year agreed to a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with the BOB, which involves airing "The Wedding." Abruzzese said his new network will be designed as an outlet for commercials like that as well as content like BMW Films and the Reebok Terry Tate Office Linebacker campaign created by the Arnell Group and Hypnotic Films. %%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%%

"People want to see these things," said Abruzzese. "I think every commercial maker wants to create a movie anyway."

"We've got some things that we are working on that could have a home there," said Andy Marks, exec VP-brand partnerships at Hypnotic. "This could be a good opportunity to place programming that we create for brands. We look forward to it with great anticipation."

As for the fortunes of the BOB, Katz said his neophyte net does have carriers, but would not name them. He also said that the network would be adding new sponsors.

Regarding Discovery's proposed venture,Katz commented: "This represents a validation of our idea. We believe in the BOB paradigm, in terms of programming and an alternative platform for marketers."

Katz said the BOB network will be supported by long form ads and by advertisers who can "license independently produced content."

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