Edge TV Swells Ranks of 'Game’ Nets

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Another gaming network, mounted by a battalion of cable veterans with the help of the talent agency Creative Artists Agency, is looking to launch early next year.

Officials of EdgeTV — positioning itself as a one-stop TV destination for all types of gaming, including casino games, fantasy sports, bridge and crosswords — will be pitching operators at the National Show in New Orleans this week.

Headquartered in Beverly Hills, Calif., EdgeTV has $10 million in seed money and is led by Reagan Silber, a legal and wireless telecommunications pioneer, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Keith Richman and Charles Katz.

“What we’re trying to do on a broad level is launch the first fully comprehensive online, on-air and interactive network devoted to the games that people know and love,” Richman said.

The proposed digital network has recruited a team of cable veterans that includes John Burns, ABC Family’s former president of distribution, as vice chairman. He’ll guide development and programming.

Hothouse Media will handle affiliate sales. Hothouse is run by Tully Bragg, former AT&T Broadband vice president of programming strategy, and Doug Orr, ex-senior vice president of affiliate sales for Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

CAA is helping EdgeTV with new-business strategies and content acquisition.

There are already several cable networks in the gaming genre with big backers. Comcast Corp. owns video-gaming network G4 and GSN — the former Game Show Network, owned by Sony Corp. and Liberty Media — is moving beyond game shows.

EdgeTV says it will cover games in a very broad sense, educating people about games and entertaining them with online and interactive options.

“What we want to do, basically, is create a network from the ground up devoted to the people who know and love to play games themselves, whether it’s the millions of bridge enthusiasts, 40 million people who do crosswords, or the 60 million people who visit casinos,” Richman said.

EdgeTV says its program mix will be 70% original and 30% acquired and that it has closed exclusive agreements with the U.S. Chess Federation and the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

The start-up, citing the popularity of poker on TV, is in talks now with a Las Vegas-based casino group to create a permanent production and broadcast operation within a major Vegas casino.

But Burns said, “This is not the Las Vegas Channel.”

He declined to discuss specifics of EdgeTV’s license fees, other than saying “It has a competitive rate card.”

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