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Motor Trend Gears Up for Multicast Channel

Magazine publisher Primedia is taking its popular Motor Trend automotive magazine into broadcast television, creating a new TV service designed for broadcast stations' digital platforms.  Primedia and Multicast Networks Group, a content and distribution company for digital broadcasting, are preparing Motor Trend TV to launch in early 2007 with auto-themed programming, such as car makeover shows, movies and new product reviews.

Stations would carry Motor Trend TV on secondary digital channels, much like NBC affiliates currently offer NBC WeatherPlus. The programming will be free to stations, and affiliates will receive local commercial inventory and have the option of inserting locally produced auto-related programming. “The channel will speak to auto enthusiasts and car loves,” says Jacqueline Blum, president of Primedia Enterprises. Programming will be targeted at men and women, she added.

Primedia began exploring starting Motor Trend TV last year, after producing several programs for cable. Blum says the company considered a cable channel or video-on-demand, but found the spaces already over-crowded. Broadcast multicast, she says, “was an interesting and unique way to address getting a network into the broadcast spectrum.”

Multicast Network Group is assisting Primedia with the programming and distribution. So far, it has not signed deals with any stations, but COO Jon Finley says Motor Trend TV is a strong product for secondary digital channels. “Most broadcasters have already made the investment or are in the process,” he says. “Now, it is about finding a business model. There are few additional costs for stations and Motor Trend TV will provide incremental revenue streams.”

Primedia and MNG plan to offer advertisers opportunity to buy cross-platform packages with Motor Trend’s magazine, Web site and new TV programming.  On Motor Trend TV, advertisers will have the ability to sponsor shows and air longer-form spots. Says Findley: “At a time when advertisers are looking for solutions, we clearly want to go beyond the 30-second spots.”