BOB Delays Launch, Weighs Offers

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Still weighing its options, fledgling short-form video network Brief Original Broadcasts is now eyeing a summer debut, following the postponement of its planned launch last week.

BOB, which will air documentaries and scripted and animated fare, as well as extended advertising vehicles and other shorts, was slated to bow on March 3.

CEO Dan O'Brien said the digital network — available for no license fee and offering affiliates up to 10 percent of its advertising revenue, depending on carriage levels — is mulling whether to remain an independent or become part of a programming group.

Although bound by confidentiality agreements from identifying the parties, O'Brien said "six different networks [or] network groups have expressed interest in becoming minority or majority investors" in BOB.

O'Brien also said "five different distribution groups" are interested in carrying BOB, but contracts have yet to be signed.

This leaves BOB in a quandary. O'Brien, an industry veteran who most recently was CEO of High Speed Access Corp., said there are pros and cons to being part of programming group.

"There are economic and administrative efficiencies, as well as promotional bonuses," he said, noting that an incubation period on an analog network also holds exposure appeal.

Conversely, O'Brien said distributors have indicated BOB would be "more valuable on its own" and not as part of a programming bundle.

O'Brien wouldn't tip his hand as to which way BOB is leaning. "From a pure development standpoint, independents almost always create the most value," he said. "But recognizing this [difficult launch] environment, we're being absolutely pragmatic and are evaluating all of our options."

O'Brien said BOB, which has Anheuser-Busch on board as a charter sponsor and could announce several major ad deals within a month, is ready to launch from a programming perspective.

"We have a year's worth of content," he said, adding that while the company has not yet signed a deal, "we can get satellite space and be up in 90 days."

Whatever direction it chooses, that decision will be made soon. "We've already had one line drawn in the sand. I don't want to let another go away," said O'Brien. "We want to go this summer."

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