Playboy to Launch on Viewers Choice Pods

Operators will soon have several more adult-programming
options, as both Playboy Entertainment Group Inc. and Califa Entertainment Group announced
a number of initiatives last week.

Playboy will distribute its Playboy TV, Spice and Spice 2
services on Viewer's Choice's pay-per-view transponders later this summer.

Meanwhile, Califa will offer two new explicit-adult-PPV
services to operators, also this summer.

Playboy and Spice will be carried on Viewer's Choice's
fifth pod (Loral transponder 5-4) as part of the network's 36-channel digital-PPV service,
Playboy Networks Worldwide president Jim English said.

The services will most likely replace two of Viewer's
Choice's movie-of-the-week channels, sources close to the situation said. The PPV pod also
includes Viewer's Choice's barker channel.

Currently, Viewer's Choice only carries the soft-adult,
action-adventure Hot Choice service.

"Not only can subscribers get movies on the half-hour
from Viewer's Choice, but they can now get Playboy's adult services," English said.
"It works better for MSOs that are only looking at the Viewer's Choice transponders.
It's an easy, turnkey service for the operator."

Viewer's Choice had no comment on the matter.

Right now, operators offering digital can only receive
Playboy's adult services through AT&T Broadband & Internet Services' Headend in
the Sky service. But operators would have to take three separate pods to access Playboy,
Spice and Spice 2.

Playboy will also offer digital feeds of its three services
-- as well as its Latin American feed -- on Telstar 5 in August, English said.

The Latin American Playboy service offers a
Spanish-language version of the network, complete with Hispanic female hosts and
programming targeted to the Hispanic audience.

"We already have several operators that have agreed to
carry the service, but once we get strong distribution for the Spanish-language service,
we'll take our signature shows, like Night Calls, and offer Spanish-language
versions," English said.

Meanwhile, Califa will launch a second Hot Network channel
to accompany its recently acquired Spice Hot service, company president Bill Asher said.

Califa purchased Spice Hot -- which it renamed The Hot
Network, and which offers more explicit adult programming than traditional adult services
-- from Spice Entertainment Cos. last February.

The second Spice Hot service, called The Hot Zone, will
offer more theme-related programming, with each day's programming serving a particular
adult niche.

The service will feature weekly movie premieres, while the
primary Hot Network offers weekend movie premieres, he said. The Hot Zone is already in
more than 5 million households.

As for The Hot Network, Asher said, Califa will retain the
80-20 operator split that Spice Hot originally offered. He added that the company has
signed 85 percent of the former Spice Hot affiliates, putting the service in front of 8
million subscribers and possibly reaching 12 million to 13 million by the end of the year.

"We know the consumer wants it, but the question is
whether the operators will embrace the services," Asher said. "We are encouraged
at how much of the industry has accepted the format."

What's not in question are the network's buy-rate
performances: The more explicit adult service generates 50 percent more revenue on average
than traditional PPV product.

"We have the programming that generates the
buy-rates," Asher said. "We are pretty well set with our long-term deals, and
we're creating new partnerships with operators."

R. Thomas Umstead

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.