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High-tech firms seem to be playing up lust and romance to get attention and subscribers.
By Phillip Swann tvpredictions.com
Washington, D.C. (February 9) -- Do you like sex with your technology?
Well, if so, this month has been a smorgasbord for you.

TiVo, the Digital Video Recording service, reported on Monday that the most replayed Super Bowl commercial was the GoDaddy.com spot which featured the t-shirt strap worn by a full-figured young woman popping off her shoulder. (One has to assume that the spot was also the most "paused" moment during the game.) Later in the ad, the buxomy brunette (Candice Michelle, pictured) performs a titillating circle dance while "testifying" in front of a mock government committee. In a press release describing the commercial's impact on its audience, TiVo used the word "Sexy" in the headline and "sex" in the lead. The TiVo release was picked up by dozens of newspapers and wire services.

* Verizon Wireless, the cell phone company, has launched a new video service for its mobile phones. Called V Cast, this week's episode, The Sunset Hotel, features a hotel bartender who falls hopelessly in love with a hotel prostitute. The Verizon 3G-capable VX8000 phone, which is required to view the room service relationship, costs $199.99 after a $70 rebate with a two-year customer agreement. But wouldn't it make a great Valentine's Day gift?

IDG News Service reports that adult filmmakers are gearing up, if you will, for the new High-Definition DVDs, which are expected to be available late this year. The porn industry says the new discs, which will offer a picture dramatically clearer than today's DVDs, will provide a new uplifting experience for the viewer. "Already about 40 percent of our titles are shot in HD and we plan to continue making the move," said Bob Christian, of Adam & Eve Productions, a leading adult studio.

* Adelphia, which was once one of the most conservative companies in the country, announced that it will begin offering triple-X adult films on its Video on Demand service. The company, which is up for sale, is the first cable operator in the nation to offer such hard-core adult material. However, analysts say that the move will not hurt the company's attempts to find a buyer.

* Comcast will launch a "Dating on Demand" service nationally on Valentine's Day. Cable viewers will be able to pick a potential mate from a menu of videos submitted by eligible bachelors and bachelorettes in their area. "Dating was a natural evolution" for VOD, Comcast's On Demand general manager Page Thompson tells USA Today.

What is going on? Or, to put it more directly, what is coming off? Are today's TV technology companies using sex to sell their new devices and services?

One word answer: Yes!

And it's not a new phenomenon.

Anonymity

For years, the TV technology industry has sold new services by playing up their sexual aspects. In the 1980s, for instance, the cable TV industry attracted early adopters with a liberal dose of adult fare. For the first time, home viewers could watch porn without going to a theater -- or a seedy video store where the movie could be rented. Cable's anonymity factor was a big selling point with adult fans.

In the 1990s, the satellite TV industry took a page from cable's playbook and offered even more adult channels.

In recent years, sex has been used to sell new High-Definition TV channels, such as HDNet and INHD. HDNet, which was co-founded by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, features a Monday lineup of bikini-clad babes rolling around the beach in crystal-clear high-def. It may not be porn, but it certainly sells. Over on INHD, a high-def channel found on most cable lineups, boy-toy Anna Kournikova is featured in skimpy black tennis outfits while playing in something called World Team Tennis. The channel often runs commercials highlighting Ms. Kornikova's most apparent charms.

Whether it's Kournikova or porn-a-kova, sex sells when it comes to new TV technology. And there's a good reason why. Despite what some analysts say, this is not a tech-savvy nation. Most people are afraid to give new technology a try. However, if the new device or service appeals to a base desire, such as sex or greed, the desire can overwhelm the fear. Consequently, I predict that you will see more companies using sex to sell their services.

Why?

Because it works.

It's why Verizon, which features the grandfatherly James Earl Jones in spots for its already established wireless service, is now using a call girl scenario to sell its new video service.

The company clearly understands that titillation can trump timidity.
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