News

Indies Look to Impress

5/11/2010 7:13 AM Eastern

Independent cable networks
attending The Cable Show
for the first time will look to
emphasize technological and
content innovation in an effort
to impress bandwidth-strapped
distributors.

Companies touting differentiated,
high-definition and 3Ddistributed
channels believe
they have the best opportunities
to break through a mature and
crowded, 500-channel cable television
marketplace.

Industry observers say the new
networks will still have a very uphill
climb gaining carriage.

“Distribution is tough, and
growing retransmission payments
are going to sap money
from the systems,” said Gary Lico,
CableU.tv’s CEO. “It takes forever
to get your distribution to a critical
mass for ad sales, and an indie
just doesn’t have the leverage for
carriage or for ad sales.”

Undaunted, several networks
will showcase their wares to the
cable industry.

Los Angeles-based MBC Programming
is hoping to catch operator
attention with the industry’s
first ever Korean-programmingbased
high-defi nition channelm,
which it expects
to launch later
this year, according
to Nahee Kim,
director of content
and channel
business for MBC
Distribution. Operators
including Comcast have
expressed interest in carrying the
channel, she said.

“There haven’t been many non-
Hispanic ethnic HD channels, so
there’s been interest in the service,”
she said. “Korean content
is not only popular for Koreans
but for Asians as well.”

Others, such as Entertainment
Studios, are offering operators a
package of high-definition channels
and the lure of 3D services to
technology-hungry operators, said
company president, Byron Allen.

Entertainment Studios’ suite of
six HD channels — Pets.TV, Cars.
TV, Comedy.TV, My Destination.
TV, ES.TV, Recipe.TV and ES.TV,
are already distributed via Verizon
Communications’ FiOS TV.
Allen said the company will offer
these channels in 3D toward the
end of the year or in early 2011.

“We didn’t just want to enter this
game as a traditional cable company,”
Allen said.
“We wanted to
come in with networks
that people
are passionate
about in native
HD and soon,
3D.”

Allen recently hired former
Hallmark Channel distribution
chief Janice Arouh to help gain
distribution for the services and
build a greater presence at The
Cable Show.

Other networks will count on offering
differentiated content in an effort to secure channel space. New York-based Veria TV will look to corner the health and wellness space with its new basic cable channel.

Currently distributed on Verizon
FiOS TV and Dish Network’s digital
basic-tier lineups, Veria TV features
more than 25 shows focusing
on natural health, wellness, fitness,
yoga, herbal treatments and alternative
medicine, according to network
general manager and cable
TV veteran Hal Rosenberg.

“This is a very tough environment,
but things that have
concepts that are new and not duplicative
over other things” have
an edge, he said. “I would not
want to be the third history channel
or the 14th movie channel.”

New York-based Karmaloop TV
will also talk up its new digitalcable
network targeted to a racially-
diverse, tech-centric audience
during the show, according to
network head and former AMC
programming executive Katie
McEnroe. It will feature original
programming focusing on underground
and trendsetting fashion,
music, film, art, dance, lifestyle
and entertainment across several
platforms to “verge culture” viewers
aged 18-to-34-year-old that
network executives say doesn’t
currently have a cable network
that speaks to them.

CableU.tv’s Lico said indie
networks such as Veria and Karmaloop
will truly have to define
a clear and unique selling proposition
if they’re to survive in the
crowded marketplace. “What isn’t
out there that could be a network
… Is there anything?” he said.

Veria’s Rosenthal says he’s up
for the challenge and looks at the
Cable Show as an opportunity to
build awareness for the channel
within the cable industry. “Seeing
a lot people in one place is a good
thing for us,” he said.

September