Programming news from The Cable Show in Las Vegas, which wraps on Wed. 5/9. Check back for updates. The Comcast Media Center added five HDTV channels on its HITS Quantum all-digital channel lineup: A&E HD, HGTV HD, Food Network HD, Starz HD and Universal HD. CMC also signed transport agreements for offering standard definition feeds of AMC and Fox News Channel. [Release]
Rentrak‘s OnDemand Essentials signed more programmers for its VOD tracking service: BET Networks, BlueHighways TV, Discovery Networks, Fox Cable Networks, Lifetime Entertainment Services and Shalom TV. [Release]
New HD networks being pitched at the Cable Show include HD simulcasts of The Weather Channel (Sept. on DirecTV), TBN (Q4) and, from Discovery Networks, HD feeds of Animal Planet, TLC, The Science Channel and Discovery Channel, all slated for Q1 2008. A&E HD and The History Channel HD, AETN’s first simulcast HD networks, will launch exclusively on DirecTV in September, with other distributors to follow. [Release]
• OTHER NEWS
ABC Family premieres original movie The List, starring Wayne Brady and Sydney Tamiia Poitier, on May 20. On May 14 it’s slated to unwrap Virtual Rush, an online social network promoting its July frat life series, Greek.
Anime Network added 500,000 VOD homes through new SVOD deals with Suddenlink and Canadian cable operators. Suddenlink is offering a 30-hour package for $6.99/month with a free VOD sampler.
BET J announced its May specials. [Release]
The Big Ten Network signed DirecTV and AT&T’s U-verse ahead of its August launch, and is negotiating with other providers including Comcast and Time Warner to be on basic cable. The network plans to produce HD content (in studio and in the field) in its first year, and also named three new executives: Michael Feller, formerly with FSN, is now VP of programming; former Rainbow Sports Network marketer Erin Harvego is VP of marketing; and Roy Seinfeld was hired as VP of ad sales. [AP]
Cartoon Network‘s Ben 10 becomes a video game this fall with the release of Ben 10: Protector of the Earth for Wii, Playstation, Nintendo DS and PSP. [Release]
CBS paid $145 million to obtain U.S. Open rights for six years; USA Network continues to hold U.S. cable rights through 2008. [CBS]
CN8, Comcast’s regional network, premieres The Pride is Back, a boxing bout between Peter Manfredo, Jr., and Ted Muller; it will also be streamed on CN8.tv, archived on Comcast on Demand and made available to Cox Sports Television. [Release]
Concert.TV added a news division. [Release]
CSTV will launch on sports tiers in Comcast’s Chicago and South Bend, IN, markets on June 27. The channel is now in more than 21 million homes, with recent launches on Time Warner Cable (Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston Salem); Cox Communications (Tulsa); Charter (Ft. Worth); RCN (Chicago, Boston, New York and Philadelphia); and Advanced Cable (Weston and Coral Springs, FL). [Release]
Discovery named ex-MTVN exec Christine Rodocker VP, national accounts marketing and Comcast vet Jim Gordon VP, public affairs, affiliate sales and marketing.
Disney Channel premieres High School Musical 2, a sequal to its Emmy Award-winning movie, on Aug. 17.
Fox Reality COO/GM David Lyle was promoted to president of the channel, while Bob Boden was promoted to SVP, production and programming, while Lorey Zlotnick was promoted to SVP of marketing and on-air promotions. The network premieres The Academy on My 24 and Solitary 2.0 in August.
The Fright Channel announced a "Friday the 13th" launch this summer. The indie horror net will premiere that day in July as a biweekly 2-hour block (10:00pm to midnight) that its owners will lease on cable systems in Los Angeles and New York; online content will be available at thefrightchannel.tv.
GAC rolls out the GAC Songwriting Challenge to high school students in 10 markets this fall. It also airs (live) the Academy of Country Music Awards "orange carpet" special on May 15; a one-hour special tribute from the Grand Ole Opry to Porter Wagoner, featuring Dolly Parton and Patty Loveless, on May 19; a Big & Rich concert on June 2; and welcomes Brad Paisley on June 17.
Gospel Music Channel last week launched on Cox Communications’ Oklahoma City and Tulsa markets, and on Charter Communications’ Fort Worth, TX system. It also replaced Black Family Channel last week in markets including Bright House Networks systems in Tampa, FL, and Bakersfield, CA; Charter in St. Louis; Comcast in Philadelphia, Miami, Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Denver, Houston, Pittsburgh and Sacramento; Cox in Omaha, NB, and Hampton Roads and Roanoke, VA; and Time Warner Cable in Dallas, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, NE and SW Ohio, Charlotte and Raleigh, NC. BFC launches on broadband later this month.
G4 promoted Josh Krane to SVP, interactive and new media.
Hallmark Channel celebrates Mother’s Day with a "Mom-A-Thon" (May 7-13). A "M*A*S*H Bash ’07" festival hosted by Jamie Farr airs over Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28, while its sixth annual Father’s Day sweepstakes offer a trip to Hollywood and a 2008 Subaru Outback. Original movie You’ve Got a Friend, starring former Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider, premieres June 9.
here! will launch as a premium SVOD service on Comcast starting July 1st. here! has been available on Comcast as a transactional VOD service for $3.99 per title since 2005. [Release]
i-Lifetv, Inspiration Networks‘ digital network, adds Gina D’s Kids Club and Sing Along with Gina D in September. [Release]
IFC is developing Bollywood Hero, a sitcom starring former Saturday Night Live comic Chris Kattan, for summer 2008. May is Dot Com Month on IFC, with featured programming including its first online series, Getting Away With Murder. IFC original series The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman and The Business return in August.
ION and its diginets—qubo, ION Life, The Worship Network and iMetro—are launching on FiOS TV. [Release]
LATV expands via digital multicast, signing six affiliates in 14 markets including Reno, NV, and Puerto Rico. [Release]
Lifeskool, Rainbow Media’s VOD service (fka Mag Rack) premieres The Cars You Want (May 21), The Bikini Chef, no relation to The Naked Chef (June 7); and Gametrotting (July).
Lifetime renewed vampire detective series Blood Ties, which wraps its first season on May 20. [Release] Lifetime also follows women competing in the 2nd annual Bunco World Championship on Friday May 11; the dice-based tourney is sponsored by Prilosec OTC. [Release]
MOJO tonight (5/7) premieres its weekly 9:00 pm comedy block with two half-hour original series: I Bet You and The King of Miami.
MSNBC announced NewsBreaker Live, the first in-theater, audience participatory video game, in which movie-goers become human joysticks and the big screen a game board as they interact with real-time MSNBC news headlines before the show. [Release]
MTVN cut integrated ad deals with Nissan and HP for ShockWave.com and AddictingGames.com. Dave Williams was promoted to SVP of both brands. [Release]
NBCU‘s cable networks claimed 60 of the top 100-rated basic cable telecasts for 2007 to date, citing Discovery Networks at #2 with 20 of the top 100 telecasts. Its tally counted each hour of WWE programming including Raw on USA as one telecast; and excluded sports, acquired movies and specials. [Release]
Nick at Nite celebrates Mothers’ Day early with "Momedy Saturday" on May 12. [Release]
Outdoor Channel expanded its affiliate sales team, hiring Mark Romano, Daniel Soane and Joe Stretesky as regional VPs serving the East, Central and West markets, respectively.
Oxygen announced an affiliate promotion, a "Let Them Eat Cake" sweepstakes, pegged to season three of Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance in July; prizes include 10 trips to Paris. The channel is now fully distributed in Washington, DC, with a launch this month on Comcast’s Potomac region, and added over 1 million subs since January. Oxygen also will roll-out its hit series on hotel-based VOD on the Cox Hospitality Network. It’s also bringing back Tori & Dean: Inn Love in the third quarter.
PBS KIDS Sprout adds an afternoon block, The Let’s Go Show, on June 25. [Release]
RFD-TV renewed a multi-year agreement with Dish Network; it’s also offered on DirecTV and its cable carriage includes NCTC, NRTC, Mediacom, Charter and Suddenlink.
SCI FI launches Ani-Monday on June 11, an anime-focused block from 11:00 pm to 1:00 am that will go head to head with Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.
Setanta Sports signed on to sponsor the U.S. Men’s national rugby team, the U.S. Eagles. [Release]
The Sportsman Channel launched in Comcast’s Bristol and Glade Springs, VA, markets; in Cox Communications’ Roanoke, VA, and Butler, KS, markets; and in markets throughout Charter Communications’ Eastern division. Comcast next month launches TSC in Chicago.
Tennis Channel will temporarily expand from 10 million to 50 million homes during the French Open (May 27-June 10) thanks to cable and DBS freeviews.
Trinity Broadcasting Network will launch a high-def feed, TBN HD, in the fourth quarter. [Release]
TV Guide Network signed Ananda Lewis to host its upcoming reality competition series, America’s Next Producer, and Fox Sports Television head David Hill and TV Guide critic Matt Roush as judges. [Release]
TV Land is unveiling a new logo and tagline: "Here for the TV Generation." Its boomer-centric upcoming original series includes Family Foreman, a reality series about George Foreman and his 10 kids (including his 5 sons named George); My Big 4-0, about excessive birthday parties a la MTV’s My Super Sweet 16; 35 and Beyond Supermodel Search; and High School Reunion, set 20 years post-graduation. The New York Times profiled the Viacom-owned net yesterday.
TV One talked up its momentum going into the Cable Show: it’s almost in 38 million homes, its VOD content is in 20 million homes and it’s offering local ad sales in systems representing more than 9 million subscribers. [Release]
TVN announced a five-year deal with BODVOD, creator of Bollywood on Demand channels for cable operators including Time Warner. The companies are launching a suite of Bollywood VOD channels to be branded Saavn, including an a la carte movies package featuring day-and-date release of South Asian musical movies with their worldwide theatrical premieres. Other Saavn products include an SVOD package of top TV shows from India. [Release]
Weatherscan, The Weather Channel‘s 24/7 local forecast service, will launch on Comcast’s Memphis market this summer.
WWE‘s "24/7 On Demand" SVOD service is now available to Charter Communications subscribers. WWE.com has streamed more than 6.2 million online episodes since Feb.