HD, 3D Networks On Sony’s Radar

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Sony Pictures Television is hoping
to become a major content player in
cable’s high-definition and 3D future with
the launch of three new channels it expects
will draw significant operator interest.

This fall Sony will launch a new HD movie
channel featuring titles from the vast library
of Sony theatrical titles — including classics
like Philadelphia, according to Andy Kaplan,
SPT’s president of networks. The yet-to-benamed
network will launch Oct. 1 alongside the
horror-themed HD movie channel FearNet, its
venture with Lionsgate and Comcast.

In 2011, Sony will team with Discovery
Communications and IMAX to launch a yet-to-
be-named 3D network offering natural
history, space and exploration programming,
as well as movie fare from each partner and
other third-party providers. Longtime Discovery
executive Tom Cosgrove is its president
and CEO.

Kaplan is confident that, despite facing a
very crowded cable network environment,
all three networks will garner significant operator
distribution, initially on HD and movie
tiers, due to their operator-friendly focus
on HD and 3D technology.

“It’s a very crowded cable environment,
but there does seem to be a pretty strong
demand for high-def movie content in particular,
and a lot of these operators are programming
that way,” Kaplan said. “A lot of
these operators don’t seem to have as much
[HD and 3D] content as they want because
there’s been a really good response in demand
for the channels.”

Kaplan would not disclose license fees for
any of the networks, saying only that they
will be “competitive” with similar services.
He also said he hopes to announce several
distribution deals for the two HD movie services
within 30 to 60 days.

“You know when it’s a really hard sell, but
we believe that this is a product that operators
have a real need for, so I think we’ll be
able to get a lot done,” Kaplan said.

The Sony movie service will initially feature
theatrical movies within SPT’s library,
but Kaplan said the service will eventually offer
more short-form content as well as original
fare. The new movie service and the four-year
old FearNet — currently in 28 million homes
on a VOD basis — will provide operators both
standard-definition and HD versions.

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