TVN to Premier 13 New Digital Channels

Following up on its attempt to court urban market viewers through the purchase of BET Action Pay-Per-View TVN Entertainment Corp. will launch seven digital PPV channels and a half-dozen music entries, beginning July 1.

The new services, including a relaunched Action, will be part of the company's Digital Content Express unit, which sends secure digital content via satellite to cable headends. The channels will be bundled or accessible on an individual basis. Select programming will also be available for video-on-demand distribution.

Along with Action PPV, TVN will offer a Spanish-language movie and event channel; outlets dedicated to art-house films and classic PPV events; three adult services; and six talk-radio audio services, TVN senior vice president of programming and distribution Michael Klein said.

TVN hopes the new offerings will provide operators with programming to complement its hit-movies, event and near video-on-demand channels, as well as other distributors such as In Demand.

"The urban marketplace has been underserved by cable, yet urban-oriented programming — particularly urban titles — have historically sold better regardless of the marketplace," Klein said.

Klein said TVN is talking to several operators about launching the new channels, but has yet to sign any deals.

Some operators attending last week's National Show expressed preliminary interest in the services. "It could be very intriguing," said Cox Communications Inc. vice president of video product management Lynne Elander.

The most familiar service among the offerings is Action PPV, which currently has 6 million subscribers. TVN purchased the service from Black Entertainment Television last March.

Klein said Action, which under BET offered a mix of action/adventure titles and soft-core adult events, will instead offer urban-oriented titles from the major studios, plus events.

Other channels offered include TeleNuestros, which will feature major Hollywood films dubbed into Spanish. The service will also offer movies from Spain, Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, said Klein.

TVN's events/eclectic channel will feature "targeted" special events, as well as critically acclaimed art-house features and independent films. The channel, slated to be split into two separate services later this year, will also feature classic PPV boxing matches and other events.

The first of three adult-oriented PPV channels will proffer programming from the popular Hot Body brand, Klein said. The service will offer featurettes, competitions and private exposes, including women found in Hot Body PPV specials.

The Passion channel will feature cable-standard adult PPV movie titles from more than 60 different adult movie production companies, while Passion Hot will offer less-edited adult PPV movies — although Klein said the service would not show triple-X programming.

Also on tap are six talk-radio channels from CRN, a leading audio program provider.

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.