Al Gore’s Net to Be 'Current' Event - Multichannel

Al Gore’s Net to Be 'Current' Event

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San Francisco -- Roughly 11 months after buying a cable network, former Vice President Al Gore Monday unveiled his plans to relaunch it as Current, a youth-targeted service that will turn to its tech-savvy viewers and Google for content.

The network, formerly known as Newsworld International, will debut Aug. 1 in its new incarnation, Gore said during a press conference here at the headquarters of INdTV, the network’s parent company.

“We’re trying to bring about a change in the way the television medium is used,” said Gore, who is INdTV’s chairman.

With its relaunch plans in place, Current will begin pitching distributors in earnest, offering on both the linear channel and accompanying video-on-demand and broadband applications.

The network will debut this summer with a base in of nearly 20 million subscribers in place, through carriage on DirecTV Inc.’s “Total Choice” tier, Time Warner Cable’s digital basic tier, and in Comcast Corp. markets such as San Francisco.

Current is soliciting short-form viewer-created content, or “VCC,” from 18-to-34 year-olds to fill a good portion of its schedule. To begin, this homegrown video programming will probably make up less than 50% of the network’s lineup, “ramping up” quickly after that, according to president of programming David Neuman.

Beyond that, Current has struck as deal to use samples of Google search data, under the name “Google Current,” to offer updates about what topics are being searched most via the search engine each day, under categories such as “Top Hottest Hits” to “Top Tourist Destinations.”

Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder and president of technology, also appeared at the press conference, calling the deal with Current “an extraordinary opportunity.”

Current will have strong VOD and broadband components to use as lures for distributors for the linear network, INdTV CEO Joel Hyatt said. The networks informational short-form content, “pods” from 15 seconds to five minutes - on subjects such as relationships, parenting, television, music, fashion and technology -- are natural fodder for on-demand platforms, according to Hyatt.

And Current is looking for viewers to submit their videos via the Internet and work through the network’s online studio (www.current.tv), which offers opportunities for broadband that should help cable operators sell their modems, according to Hyatt.

Current is creating an online training program for viewers who want to create and submit video content to the network.

Ironically, Current looks like it will be rather devoid of partisan political content, according to Gore. “We have no intent of being a Democratic channel or a liberal channel,” he said.

But he does see Current as providing a unique way to connect the cable and broadband platforms.

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