Bravo Serves Up U.S. Open in High-Def

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Bravo HD+ will carry 65 hours of HDTV programming from the U.S. Open tennis tournament, providing an HD simulcast of the event that will run on USA Network.

The move also expand’s Bravo HD+’s content beyond its current batch of performing-arts fare and movies from its library. Jean-Briac Perrette, senior vice president of new media development for NBC Universal Cable, said the move could result in programming from NBC’s other cable networks showing up on Bravo.

For instance, Sci-Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica and other series shot on film could run as HD fare on Bravo. USA series such as Monk and Touching Evil might also be candidates.

Instead of launching an HD feed of those networks, Perrette said NBC is listening to operator concerns about bandwidth and considering funneling more high-end HD program onto Bravo HD and using it as a destination channel for NBC Cable HD content.

The U.S. Open fare will be shot in HD and converted to standard definition for USA’s linear feed. Bravo HD+ will simulcast USA’s primetime schedule during the first week of the tournament, which begins Aug. 30 with the opening rounds of the men’s and women’s singles competition.

During the second week, Bravo HD+ will offer full coverage every day leading up to the women’s doubles final on Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. ET.

The move signals the evolution of Bravo HD+, which launched a year ago with a mix of high-profile series like The West Wing and new performing-arts content that NBC bought specifically for the channel. The idea was to have “pure” HDTV content rather than upconverted fare, Perrette said. “That meshed up nicely with the affluent, upscale, early adopter” audience for HD.

“We want to make it better service going forward, making programming more compelling,” he said. The channel is using the best of NBC Universal, including movies from its library. “From a brand standpoint, we’ll evaluate whether Bravo is still the best place utilize” the content, according to Perrette, “or is there something that has more consumer awareness.”

He hopes that expanding the HD content will help secure greater distribution. Bravo HD+ last week inked a carriage deal with DirecTV Inc. It also has a deal with Cablevision Systems Corp.

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