Six start-up HD networks—with original programming about cars, comedy, pets, travel, food and entertainment—will debut later this year with launches on Verizon’s FiOS video service, according to officials.
The new HD channels Cars.TV, Pets.TV, Comedy.TV, MyDestination.TV, ES.TV and Recipe.TV have been created by Entertainment Studios, which bills itself as the largest independent producer and distributor of first-run syndicated shows for TV stations.
“What is unique here is all of our content is originally produced by us and is in 1080i HD,” said Byron Allen, founder and CEO of Entertainment Studios.
Although Entertainment Studios plans to debut its channels on Verizon, the six HDTV networks will not be exclusive to that telco, according to Allen.
Entertainment Studios is “in advanced conversations” with other distributors, and Lindsay Gardner, former president of affiliate sales and marketing for Fox Cable Networks, has been consulting on the launch of the six-network HD suite, Allen said.
Verizon has said it will have 150 HD networks, “and they’ve allocated approximately 4% of that capacity, six channels, to us,” Allen said. He added that Verizon is paying license fees for the new HDTV services.
“They are paying us sub fees, and the sub fees are very substantial,” Allen said.
Cars.TV showcases auto collectors, designers and car enthusiasts. Pets.TV celebrates pets and their owners. Comedy.TV offers a mix of live performances, talk and variety shows. MyDestination.TV is dedicated to travel, while ES.TV will focus on entertainment news and celebrity profiles. And Recipe.TV is about famous chefs and food.
Distributors have to carry the whole suite of six services, they can’t cherry pick just a few of them. And content from the six HDTV networks will be available on their own individual Web sites and on mobile, according to Allen.
“Verizon is committed to leading the industry in the scope and quality of our programming with a major focus on HD content,” Terry Denson, vice president of FiOS TV content and programming, said in a prepared statement. “The future addition of these six high-def networks, coupled with our advanced fiber-optic technology, will help to further enhance our FiOS TV offering and will certainly appeal to many of our customers.”
Entertainment Studios produces, distributes and sells advertising for 15 programs, including Comics Unleashed, which will have 260 episodes its new season and will air on Comedy.TV. The company has a library of more than 4,000 hours of owned content and a growing array of licensed titles.
Allen hosts several of his company’s TV shows, such as Entertainers with Byron Allen and Kickin’ It with Byron Allen.
“Verizon saw us as a way of making a strong statement to the consumers that we are first in class in terms of having terrific HD content and HD networks,” Allen said. “They’re going to use us very well to acquire customers who are pet lovers and car lovers and want another food network and want another comedy channel and travel channel and want choices and options.”
Allen isn’t daunted by the fact that there are established networks in several of the genres he is tackling, namely Comedy Central, Food Network, Travel Channel and E! Entertainment Television.
“I think they’re all fabulous,” he said. “They all do a magnificent job. They’ve shown, no pun intended, that there’s a huge appetite (for content) and I don’t think any one network can fill that appetite.”
Allen pointed out that Comics Unleashed features unknown comedians that would not typically appear on Comedy Central.
“I think that says, hey, there’s room for more than one comedy channel,” he said.
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