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Lance Armstrong set to make headlines on Discovery globally

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MUMBAI: Discovery Communications has announced the kick off of a worldwide programming and marketing effort in support of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team and Lance Armstrong's historic final attempt to win the Tour de France for an unprecedented seventh consecutive year.

Under the banner of Chasing No. 7 Discovery is conducting a seven-week campaign to generate excitement leading up to the Tour. This is being highlighted by a week of programming from 26 June 26 -1 July anchored by The Science Of Lance Armstrong.

The Science Of Lance Armstrong will debut in primetime in more than 160 countries and 35 languages including India on 27 June 2005, as a Watch With the World programming event. Verizon and AMD are sponsors of the Chasing No. 7 initiative in the US.

Discovery Communications president and CEO A. McHale said, "Discovery is the world's storyteller and Lance Armstrong's personal history is an incredible story of strength, perseverance and excellence. The Chasing No. 7 campaign will use our worldwide media platforms to give viewers unprecedented access to a cultural phenomenon and world-class athlete, survivor and celebrity, and the extraordinarily successful Team Discovery."

Discovery is leveraging all of its global assets to support and promote Armstrong and Team Discovery Channel through the Chasing No. 7 initiative. Discovery.com will feature a Tour de France map, event history, rules and dispatches, and will support the online sweepstakes. In addition, Discovery is expanding the www.teamdiscoverychannel.com website to provide fans with news, daily updates from the road, bios of the cyclists, photos and video.

This fan-based content is available in 15 languages through the international Discovery Channel websites. in the US Discovery Channel Radio (available on XM, Sirius Satellite Radio and AudioFeast) will air daily vignettes and tune-in information, as well as behind-the-scenes interviews with Armstrong, the Team and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The 120 Discovery Channel Stores and DiscoveryStore.com will feature merchandise and team apparel; additionally, in-store displays will generate excitement about the programming event and the Team's performance in the Tour de France. Discovery Education will incorporate informational vignettes into Discovery Health Connection  its new online health and prevention curriculum for schools.

The Science Of Lance Armstrong is Discovery's fourth Watch With the World event and the first since 2000's Inside The Space Station. In the special viewers will explore Armstrong's high altitude training methods and wind tunnel testing, superhuman physiology and high-tech equipment.

Specially created commercial spots featuring Lance Armstrong and the team, and the stars of top Discovery Networks series such as American Chopper, The Crocodile Hunter, World Poker Tour and What Not To Wear will air in the US leading up to the Tour. Texas-based advertising agency TM Advertising produced the spots.

In addition to the special Discovery Channel, TLC, Travel Channel, FitTV, The Science Channel, Discovery Health Channel and Discovery HD Theater will air a slate of special programming in the US. Each network will bring a different point of view on the Tour, the sport, the science of biking and Armstrong's amazing athleticism.

Discovery's US networks have started gearing up viewers for the Chasing No. 7 week of programming with a series of minute-long segments. Celebrities, renowned athletes and cycling enthusiasts including, Sheryl Crow, Ben Harper, Amanda Beard, Gabrielle Reece, Laura Dern, Dennis Haysbert, Rita Wilson, Sugar Ray Leonard and ESPN's Chris Fowler will host each segment. They will feature inside looks at the training, equipment and technology that go into the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team's assault on the Tour de France.

These on-air vignettes will also promote an online sweepstakes, offering a grand prize of a Trek Tour for two during the final days of the 2005 Tour de France. On 2 July 2005, the nightly vignettes will also include brief tour updates and Team standings. Customised versions of the vignettes will air on Discovery Channel internationally from 2 July.

Other marketing elements include a viral marketing effort highlighted by online animated shorts of Team Discovery featuring Lance Armstrong and Discovery Networks stars like the Teutuls of Discovery Channel's American Chopper and Stacy London and Clinton Kelly from TLC's What Not To Wear as created by JJ Sedelmaier (Saturday Night Live's TV Funhouse).

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