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Ovation Standing on DirecTV

Nearly tripling its distribution, Ovation TV secured a carriage deal with DirecTV, and the arts network is targeting a midyear launch on the direct-broadcast satellite service.

With the launch, Ovation will have nationwide distribution for the first time as part of DirecTV's Total Choice Plus tier. The network currently reaches 5.3 million subscribers with carriage in markets such as New York; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Tampa/St. Petersburg and Orlando, Fla.; San Diego; and San Antonio and Austin, Texas.

"With this agreement, Ovation TV has achieved something it has never had -- a true national television footprint,” chairman Ken Solomon said in a prepared statement. “We're thrilled that DirecTV sees Ovation TV as a solution for filling the void in the television landscape for art-related programming and recognizes the importance of this program category in the lives of viewers across the nation."

Under terms of a past deal, DirecTV had agreed to consider carrying new programming services from one of Ovation’s new owners, Hubbard Media Group.

Last August, Hubbard was part of a group of investors -- led by Solomon and CEO Charles Segars including indie-film impresarios Harvey and Bob Weinstein -- that purchased Ovation. Hubbard is a unit of family-run broadcasting company Hubbard Broadcasting.

Hubbard has long-standing ties to DirecTV, stemming from its 1999 sale of U.S. Satellite Broadcasting to DirecTV, which was then owned by Hughes Electronics. As part of that deal, DirecTV was obligated to consider launching future Hubbard programming services. For example, DirecTV is now carrying Hubbard’s ReelzChannel.

“Obviously, the Hubbards were incredibly helpful in the negotiation, and their prior relationship with DirecTV was a huge factor in this,” Ovation chief operating officer Ron Garfield said. “The whole negotiation was not an easy negotiation, but really throughout the whole negotiation, they had confidence that Ovation was a network that DirecTV really wanted to put up in their platform.”

According to Garfield, Ovation’s prior owners had unsuccessfully tried to get carriage from DirecTV.

“I think [DirecTV officials] felt that with the combination of the new ownership and the new management and, obviously, the resources now that were behind it, it would really allow the channel to achieve its potential,” Garfield added.

“We feel that Ovation’s arts-related programming fills an unserved niche and should appeal to many of our viewers," DirecTV executive vice president of programming Dan Fawcett said.  

The network’s new management tweaked its name a bit. The channel used to be called Ovation, The Arts Network, and it is now going under the name Ovation TV.