When operators place their bets on emerging networks competing in the horse race for distribution, it’s a natural to think about the two 24/7 channels dedicated to the ponies. Ops have a choice between two feisty fillies running on this track: HorseRacing TV, a service of Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns and operates prestigious racetracks such as Santa Anita Park near Los Angeles; and TVG Network, a subsidiary of Gemstar-TV Guide International.
Both networks offer operators a free service with a split of revenue generated. HRTV, which launched on Jan. 1 of this year with under 1 million subs, has grown to about 1.5 million cable subscribers in 10 states since then. In addition to signed carriage deals with Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and the NCTC, the network has received carriage on systems belonging to Comcast, Charter and Adelphia outside of any signed affiliation agreements. HRTV president Bill Bridgen says another “significant national agreement is on the horizon,” and that Cox Santa Barbara and Bakersfield are also launching the network Dec. 15. HRTV also started producing hi-def horseracing programming for HDNet in June. TVG is hitting the Western Show with its own good news. It added more than 3 million subscribers in 2003—a 43% increase in subs over ’02—including recent launches on Cox systems in Las Vegas and Lafayette, La., and RCN systems in Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco. Now available in nearly 12 million homes, it’s featured on all Cox digital sports tiers throughout California. TVG’s first affiliate promotion, a sweepstakes that ran from Sept. 1 through Oct. 3 and was pegged to the 2003 annual Breeders’ Cup, reached nearly 23 million cable and satellite subscribers. Its 17 participating cable systems included Comcast Baltimore, Cox San Diego, Adelphia Los Angeles and Insight Louisville.

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Increased online shopping should actually help the industry, particularly all these DTC streaming offerings.

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