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NGC to Double Sub Count

National Geographic Channel has inked a carriage deal with Time Warner Cable
that will nearly double its subscriber count.

The MSO has agreed to launch the network to 80 percent of its 12.7 million
customers over the next 14 months. The deal will boost NGC's subscribers to more
than 20 million households within its first year of operation. Terms of the
agreement were not disclosed.

NGC executives noted that only three other networks have surpassed that
subscriber threshold during their initial years: FX, Fox News Channel and Animal

Time Warner Cable plans to introduce NGC to more than one-half of the
committed subscribers by year's end. The remaining subscribers will receive the
channel next year, spokesman Michael Luftman said.

In concert with its other distribution agreements, NGC will be available to
45 million households within five years.

NGC has steadily gained popularity among operators and viewers, according to
the past four consecutive Beta Research Corp. subscriber studies for 2001.

Beta announced Tuesday that NGC, The Biography Channel and Lifetime Movie
Network are the three emerging digital networks operators most want to

The research firm reported that 84 percent of operators expressed strong
interest in carrying NGC by the end of next year.

It also proved especially desirable among adults 18 through 34, 18 through 49
and 25 through 54, all of whom ranked the network as their top choice among
emerging programming services on cable or satellite.

'We will continue to be aggressive with our development,' said Laureen Ong,
president of National Geographic U.S. 'This first year, we had 400 hours [of
original programs], and next year we will have more.'

The network officially launched in January amid mixed expectations from
operators and advertisers. The launch included 10 million subscribers, with 7.1
million of those homes coming from direct-broadcast satellite provider DirecTV
Inc. Only a handful of operators agreed to carry the channel at the time.

The network had set ambitious programming goals, coming out of the gate with
a live daily news show in a genre not known for such coverage.

But since its North American launch, operator interest in NGC has
skyrocketed, according to Lindsay Gardner, executive vice president, affiliate
sales and marketing at Fox Cable Networks Group.

NGC has carriage deals with nearly all of the top MSOs, Gardner said, adding,
'Now we [have to] communicate to people that there is a dependable destination
for this genre of programming.'
Gardner said Cox Communications Inc. is the
only top MSO refusing to carry the network. Cox has a 24.6 percent ownership
stake in Discovery Communications Inc., a direct competitor of NGC.

'We have built a business plan where we don't plan to get access to any of
Cox's [6.2 million] subscribers,' he added.

Cox spokeswoman Ellen East said Gardner's claims are 'flatly untrue. We have
not made many changes to our digital networks in four years.'

Among the networks Cox has added to its digital platform over that span are
SoapNet, Fox Sports World, LMN, Toon Disney, History Channel International and