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SES Americom Signs Five Programmers for IP-PRIME IPTV Service

Satellite-services provider SES Americom added 53 new channels to the lineup for its Internet-protocol-TV distribution service, inking transport deals with Comcast Networks, Fox Cable Networks, NBC Universal, Showtime Networks and Turner Broadcasting System.

The deals bring SES Americom’s IP-PRIME service to more than 350 channels, including 18 HD services and several audio channels.

IP-PRIME now has transport agreements with more than 40 programmers, including A&E Television Networks, Fox News Channel, Hallmark Channels, Lifetime Networks, MTV Networks, Oxygen Media, Scripps Networks, Sí TV, Starz Entertainment, The Weather Channel, Anime Network, CSTV and HDNet.

One of the biggest programmers absent from its lineup is ESPN. But SES Americom is currently in negotiations with the sports programmer, senior vice president of media partnerships Bill Squadron said, adding, “It would be erroneous to say we won’t have ESPN.”

SES Americom expects to officially launch IP-PRIME in the next few weeks. The company is marketing the turnkey service to small and midsized telcos as way for them get an IPTV service up and running quickly -- and less expensively -- than cobbling together the infrastructure and services.

“We are able to deliver operational IPTV in a fully managed solution or deliver it to a headend. We’ve put together a tremendous menu of partners both from the hardware side and programming side,” Squadron said.

However, while SES Americom can deliver the satellite feeds and put together the headends and set-top equipment necessary to run an IPTV service, individual operators will need to separately negotiate carriage deals with each programmer.

“We may be in a position to put together carriage agreements on behalf of our international distributors, but I think the conclusion we drew was that it’s important for these carriage agreements to be between distributor and programmer,” Squadron said.

SES Americom’s partners for IP-PRIME include Cisco Systems, Harmonic, Siemens, NDS Group and the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, which represents 1,300 U.S. phone companies that have fewer than 100,000 customers. Squadron said the service has completed trials with four NRTC members.

Under the new transport agreements, IP-PRIME will offer:

• Seven Comcast channels: E! Entertainment Television, Versus, Style, AZN, G4, PBS Kids Sprout and The Golf Channel;

• 10 Turner channels, including CNN, TNT, Cartoon Network, Court TV, Turner Classic Movies, TBS, CNN International, CNN Headline News and Boomerang;

* 13 NBC U channels, including CNBC, Bravo, USA Network, Sci Fi Channel, Telemundo, Universal HD, Chiller and Sleuth;

* 10 Fox Cable channels, including FX, Fox Sports en Español, National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Channel HD, Speed, Fuel TV and Fox Movie Channel; and

* 13 Showtime channels, including Showtime, Flix, The Movie Channel, Showtime Women, Showtime HD, Showtime Beyond, The Movie Channel HD and Showtime FamilyZone.