BIO HD Nets DirecTV Deal

A&E Television Networks has signed a deal with DirecTV making the satellite leader the first distributor for its new BIO HD service.

David Zagin, executive vice president of distribution for AETN, said BIO HD will debut on DirecTV Nov. 28, featuring an upgraded simulcast of BIO’s feed, which currently has 45 million subscribers. Zagin said that nearly half of the primetime programming – including episodes from its flagship Biography series – on the network, now in 45 million homes, will be shot in HD, with the remaining content up-converted to the enhanced format.

With all new and upcoming BIO productions being shot in HD -- including the upcoming William Shatner-hosted talk show, Shatner's Raw Nerve, Zagin said the network’s primetime schedule will yield about 65% pure HD content by early-to-mid 2008.

BIO HD joins A&E HD and History Channel HD as AETN-distributed, 24-hour HD offerings, and Zagin said AETN is packaging all three services to operators.

Although BIO HD has yet to officially reach any distribution deals with operators, Zagin said he expects to gain subs for service as system bandwidth and channel capacity open up.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.