Former PPV Exec Blume Launches Docu Net

Looking to capitalize on cable's trend toward reality and documentary programming, former pay-per-view executive Rick Blume has quietly launched a digital service that offers long-form nonfiction shows.

The independently owned Chronicle DTV service is telecasting a blend of documentary and reality programming that's not seen on other television outlets, said Blume, who launched Action Pay-Per-View in the early 1990s.

The service, which has distribution deals through OlympuSAT and some small operators, offers programming from domestic and international documentary producers.

Blume said he is proffering a $1.50 per-subscriber launch fee for one year, with another three free years for operators who commit to a multiyear agreement. After that, the network would charge 5 cents per month per subscriber.

Blume is projecting 100,000 subscribers by year-end.

Approximately 4,000 documentaries are produced each year, said Blume, but most are never seen due to a lack of outlets for distribution. True to the network's tagline, "Real Life Stories," Blume hopes to provide attractive programming that appeals to operators and viewers.

The network's target audience of highly educated, affluent adults aged 25 to 54 is one of the primary audiences to which operators are trying to sell digital services.

"We believe that the programming that Chronicle offers is what the cable operators are interested in and where we had the most available programming," Blume said.

Some of the documentaries slated to air on the network include award-winning productions such as Alberta Hunter: My Castle's Rockin', which traces the performer's career throughout the 20th century; A League of Their Own, the documentary that inspired the Penny Marshall film of the same name; and Annie Leibovitz, a profile of the famed photographer.

The network will also offer in-depth and controversial documentaries including The Islamic Wave, a film focusing on the relationship between Islam and the West; andShackled Women, a report on human-rights abuses of women from Africa to Asia.

Chronicle DTV was initially part of a suite of digital channels Blume had hoped to launch last year. But the economic downturn and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks severely hampered Blume's ability to generate the financing necessary to support the suite.

"Industry consolidation, including the pending AT&T-Comcast cable deal, kept busy the cable executives that we were hoping to meet with to get the venture off the ground," Blume said. "It's been a difficult time, but it made us focus on the one network instead of several services."

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.