Comcast: 100 Bids for New Network Launches

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Comcast has about 100 prospective
African-American and Hispanic networks from
which to choose the three minority-owned, multicultural-
themed networks the nation’s largest MSO
committed to launch in 2012 and 2013.

Comcast’s call for proposals for two African-
American-owned networks and one English-language
Hispanic service yielded a surprisingly high
number of applications before the May 31 deadline,
David Jensen, vice president of content acquisition
for Comcast, said.

Comcast has pledged to launch an English-language
Hispanic-themed channel by July 28, 2012,
and two majority African-American-owned channels
by Jan. 28, 2013.

Overall, Comcast has said it will launch 10 new
independent channels over the next eight years, including
eight that are Hispanic- and African-American
owned or operated. That is a commitment
Comcast made in connection with its deal for control
of NBCUniversal.

“I think it really shows you that there’s tremendous
enthusiasm in the creative content community
to build a connection between content and
audiences,” Jensen said. “The responses were very
enthusiastic, very creative, and I think it shows that
the need we thought existed in this area is very real
and very powerful.”

Of the 100 or so proposals, Jensen said 80% were
programming services targeted to the African-
American community or 100% owned by African-
Americans.

Most were based in the music- and general-entertainment
arenas. But other genres such as history,
news and talk, original films and kids were
each represented by multiple proposals, Jensen
said, without divulging specifics.

He said Comcast received proposals from
“some very big names” in the entertainment
industry, but again would not disclose them.

“We had ideas from people that had a concept
and just wanted to be heard and considered,
and otherwise weren’t in the business,
all the way to people who are very famous,
global media brands,” Jensen said.

“When we started this we didn’t know how the
process was going to go because no one has done
this before, but it became clear that we’re going to
get a lot of ideas and we’re going to like more than a
few, which will make it very hard to pick.”

In the end, Comcast’s final picks will be based on
each network’s customer-value proposition, Jensen
said. “If we are guided by that, then we’ll do right
by our customers, the communities we’re serving
and the channel proponents.”

Jensen said Comcast will look to make its final
decision by late summer. “Hopefully by then, we
should have a pretty clear idea of where we’re going,”
he added.

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