News

New Presidential Views at BBCA, Sportsman, Bravo

6/07/2010 5:41 AM Eastern

BBC Worldwide America,
Sportsman Channel and Bravo
Media all got new presidents
last week. Respectively, they are
Herb Scannell; the former MTV
Networks vice chairman; Gavin
Harvey, who left the Fuse music
channel; and Bravo’s Frances
Berwick, promoted from executive
vice president.

The Wire checked in with them
about their plans.

• Scannell, who succeeds Garth
Ancier as overseer of BBC America
and the BBC’s U.S. production
arm, said the channel enjoys upscale
demographics and that’s “a
great place to launch from.” Still,
the Nielsen numbers for September
2009 through May 2010 say
the channel averages just 136,000
viewers in primetime. So, he added:
“With that said, sure, I want to increase
the ratings and I have to get
into it with the channel folks on
how to do that, in what manner.”

BBCA launches lots of new
shows each year from the United
Kingdom, in runs ranging from six
to 13 episodes. That keeps things
fresh and original, he said, but it
needn’t be so strictly British: “I
think it could and should be supplemented
with some made-in-
America shows that will be of the
kind of smart, irreverent innovative
spirit that the BBC has had.”

“I want to work on the branding of
the network, bring some clarity, so
that the audience has some clear expectations,”
Scannell said. “I want
to kind of look at what we might
be able to do on the schedule, ratings
wise and otherwise.” He also
wants to increase the production
lines feeding the channel.

• Harvey found the chance to
work at Sportsman Channel personally
and professionally appealing.
“For the 80 million-plus who
enjoy hunting, fishing and shooting,
it’s their passion, their family
heritage, their religion. I’m one
of them,” he said. “There’s nothing
I enjoy more than battling a
fighting fish. When I’m out in the
field in elk country, I feel like Clint
Eastwood. I’ve got that religion.”

Harvey — who said he favored
keeping field-and-stream sports
as an integral component of OLN
and the rebranded Versus — views
the category as underserved. He’s
excited about the assets InterMedia
can bring to bear for Sportsman
Channel, relative to TV production,
15 genre magazine titles and an expanding
digital portfolio.

“There aren’t any adventure or
motor sports on the network,” he
said. “Sportsman Channel is 100%
laser-focused on this audience. I
think we can bring value to distributors
and help them with the
marketing of this category.”

He’s aiming at Sportsman growing
beyond the current 26 million
subscribers. “We need to be in 30
million or 35 million homes,” he
said. “You’ll see Sportsman with a
‘3’ in front of it, sooner than later.”

• Berwick’s Bravo forecast is for
a hot summer. The network will air
11 new or returning series during
the warm-weather months and is
supporting a 16% increase in original
programming with its first onair,
multi-talent image campaign,
“Summer by Bravo.”

“We didn’t quite fathom how
many people were involved,” she
said of the more than 30 “Bravolebrities”
depicted in the initial spot
featuring a rooftop pool party. “We
had four different shoots and then
had to composite them. We wanted
to convey that Bravo is the cool,
fun place to be this summer.”

She’s also prepping for Bravo’s
first foray into scripted series,
sometime after the 2010-11 TV season.
A reality or docu-series can
reach the air in five or six months.
A scripted show takes much longer.
“This is evolutionary for our
brand,” she said. “We’re not going
to do it unless it feels right.”

Five scripted series are in various
stages of development, she
said. “Hopefully, one or two are
pilotable.”

Comcast, Discovery
Tackle ‘Brain Drain’
With VOD Contest

Learning is a terrible thing to waste. But it
happens to kids every summer: It’s called
the summer slide.

In Indiana, Comcast and Discovery Education
are addressing the problem with a new
promotion called “Avoid the Brain Drain.”

Studies show students need to be actively
engaged in learning through the summer
months to hold onto the knowledge gained
the prior school year. The Discovery and
Comcast scavenger hunt challenges Indiana
kids to view educational videos on demand,
then go online to www.learningondemand.
com/comcast
to answer questions about the
videos. Students will be asked how they plan
to “avoid the brain drain” this summer; one
winning respondent will get a 47-inch high definition TV set.

Lori McFarling, chief marketing officer at
Discovery Education and Domestic Distribution,
said other distributors are interested
in “hyper-localized VOD content that addresses
local educational issues, standards
and priorities — all customized to their
community needs.” She said other new programs
with key partners will emerge over
the next few months.

WealthTV Lines Up
3DTV-Rich Content

WealthTV president Charles Herring is
stockpiling 3D content — anticipating a
quick takeoff for the format — but he’s not
quite sure what
he’s going to do
with it yet.

To date, the
San Diego-based
network has
commitments to
produce about
50 hours of 3D
programming,
ranging from
travelogues ,
showcases of exotic
cars and nature
documentaries,
including a
one-hour special
on Hearst Castle,
the legendary William Randolph Hearst estate
in central California.

“We’re excited about anything that will let
you turn on the TV and you feel like you’re
there,” Herring said. “When I first saw HD, I
felt like I could actually smell the ocean. I
think viewers will get 3D when they see it.”

But WealthTV, which describes itself as
the “premier luxury lifestyle and entertainment
network,” hasn’t determined whether
it will offer 3D content as video-on-demand,
on a linear 24/7 channel, or in a programming
block on the HD service, Herring said.

The 2D, HD network is available to about
10 million homes, through deals with AT&T,
Verizon Communications, Charter, and small
and midsize cable and telco operators. Will
3D add a new dimension to distribution
prospects? “I think 3D, in general, is important
to WealthTV — and it should be important
to operators, too,” Herring said.

March