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The Beat Goes On At Transitioning Trio

It's business as usual for digital pop-culture channel Trio, which last week unveiled plans for several new specials and documentaries despite uncertainty about its future due to the pending takeover of its parent Universal Television Group by NBC.

Trio president Lauren Zalaznick, speaking at a network-sponsored luncheon last week, refused to comment specifically on the ramifications of the NBC parent General Electric Co.'s $14 billion buyout of Vivendi Universal Entertainment, but expressed optimism about the 20 million-subscriber network's future. She also would not address industry speculation that Trio may be combined with NBC's higher-penetrated Bravo network, once the deal is completed in 2004.

Zalaznick said Trio hopes to make several distribution announcements in the next quarter to further expand its base, en route to potentially topping the 30-million-subscriber mark within the next two years.

The network is also making strides in reaching younger, affluent viewers. During the third quarter 2003, the median age for Trio viewers was 47, below that of A&E (56.8), Lifetime Movie Network (48.2) and National Geographic Channel (51.8) on a total-day basis, according to a Nielsen Media Research study.

Zalaznick also said 40% of Trio viewers have household incomes of $75,000 or more and another 24% are earning more than $100,000 according to Nielsen Media.

"We're showing very good demo and psychographic results, which bodes well for the network," she said.

As for fourth-quarter fare, Trio will veer from its entertainment-based approach on Nov. 25 with the documentary Journalists: Killed in the Line of Duty, which examines the recent deaths of NBC correspondent David Bloom and The Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

The network will offer its first countdown program, Epic TV: The Top Ten Miniseries Of All Time, on Nov. 26, revisiting the top genre projects, from Roots to Tales of The City.

Also on tap for Trio in December: The Award Show Awards Show, a look at the nearly 565 entertainment-industry award competitions each year; and White Noise: The Pop Culture Roundup Year End Special, tackling the most overexposed stories of 2003.