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TV One to Launch VOD

Hoping to increase sampling, upstart African- American targeted network TV One in January will launch a free video-on-demand offering .

TV One co-owner Comcast Corp. will present the service beginning Jan. 20 across all of its VOD-enabled systems, said network executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Brad Samuels. Radio One Inc. owns a majority interest in the service,

Samuels said systems can carry the VOD service if they don’t offer the linear network, but only if the MSO has committed to a “significant” carriage deal. The service is free to operators and subscribers, Samuels added.

“As operators begin to see free on-demand drive penetration and retention of digital cable, we thought that we needed to have a very competitive FOD strategy and offering to round out our story to the operators,” Samuels said.

TV One will start with five hours of original fare: lifestyle show Living It Up With Patti LaBelle; cooking series Turn Up the Heat With G. Garvin; transformation series Makeover Manor; The Gospel of Music with Jeff Majors; and celebrity interview series TV One on One.

Samuels said 50% of the content will be refreshed each month.

Additionally, TV One plans to premiere at least one original-series episode or special on VOD before it is on the linear service.

To that end, the network will bow Tangles and Locks, a special exploring the world of black hair shows.

“We have a pretty robust specials slate set for 2005, so we feel as though there’s an opportunity to premiere those first on VOD,” said TV One executive vice president of programming and production Lee Gaither.

“It serves as a promotional tool to redirect people back to the [linear] channel,” Gaither said.

Gaither also said VOD may serve as a incubator for new and innovative programming exclusive only to that platform.

“The more we find the ways to make that space active by experimenting — staying on-brand, but doing things that you might not do in the normal linear space — the more symbiotic the two areas become,” he said.