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Satellite Capitalizes On TW's NFL Fumble

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The breakdown in negotiations between Time Warner Cable and the National Football League, likely to result in zero NFL games on TW this season, has placed two of the nation's largest satellite TV providers on the offensive.

The Dish Network, via Culver City, Calif.'s The Woo Agency, is mounting a $35 million campaign that includes national spots starring Tiki Barber and street teams of cheerleaders, referees and fans. In coming weeks, the actors will invade sports bars and tailgate parties in key markets to toss T-shirts and branded pigskins. "We hit really hard with a simple, clear message: 'Football, 24/7' at half the price of cable," said Valerie Moizel, creative director at the independent shop.

Deutsch/LA is doing its bit for DirecTV with national TV spots featuring Peyton Manning and radio spots that mention Time Warner by name. According to Eric Hirshberg, chief creative officer, Deutsch/LA, viewers tend to stick with what they already know, which makes its campaign "an inertia-breaker. The big enemy isn't cable, it's laziness. That being said, when [TW does] something stupid like drop the NFL channel, we jump on it and exploit it, of course."

The company is also offering to send alerts to fantasy football fans when their players make big plays.

The Dish Network campaign is zeroing in on key cities by using hometown players. Local TV spots feature eight players from various teams who will be seen on their couches addressing the camera. In one, Kansas City Chiefs player Tony Gonzalez says, "You could be watching football. And you call yourself a fan?"

Dish is also holding a "Last-Fan-Sitting Contest," set to kick off yesterday. Eight contestants will be flown to Denver to try to break the Guinness world record for continuous TV watching (69 hours) of games. Fans are invited to call the viewers, who themselves will be on TV and radio, to keep them awake. The winner, presuming he or she ever wants to watch football again, goes to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.