New Balance Backs Cable Net

NEW YORK Comcast and Time Warner Cable are joining forces with fitness icon Jake Steinfeld to develop an on-demand network that will be available at no additional charge on both cable operators’ respective systems.

Exercise TV, which launches today, features a rotating lineup of up to 90 fitness programs with a heavy emphasis on exercise routines and various workout disciplines ranging from Pilates to special fitness regimens developed for seniors.

Boston-based athletic apparel manufacturer New Balance is a stakeholder in the venture, which is the second programming partnership between the two cable giants. In April, Comcast and Time Warner will pull the tarp off SportsNet New York, a regional sports network and the cable home of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets.

At launch, New Balance will serve as the channel’s exclusive sponsor, although Exercise TV will not carry traditional 30-second spots. Instead, each segment will feature New Balance product placements, as well as specially produced messages sponsored by the company. Independent Boathouse in Needham, Mass., handle the estimated $20 million New Balance ad account.

Eventually, the channel will take advantage of Time Warner’s enthusiasm for interactive TV applications, allowing customers to shop for New Balance products via a few clicks of their remotes.

In time, Exercise TV’s programming will be available across digital platforms, including wireless.

While New Balance is the only sponsor signed to the video-on-demand channel, other deals are in the works. “Fitness content is ideally suited for video on demand, and the multi-billion dollar home exercise market offers a great business opportunity for additional Exercise TV sponsors,” said Steve Burke, president of Comcast Cable.