Sundance Channel, Trio and Newsworld International are the
latest services to win slots on Tele-Communications Inc.'s Headend in the Sky,
according to officials.
Sundance, in addition to getting a berth on HITS
transponder 8, also reached a corporate-affiliation agreement with TCI's programming
division, Satellite Services Inc., for both digital and analog carriage on the MSO's
Even before the corporate-carriage deal, TCI had rolled out
Sundance on analog in Seattle and Marin County, Calif., outside of San Francisco,
according to Larry Aidem, the network's president and chief operating officer.
Armed with the corporate deal, Sundance will target
additional TCI markets such as Chicago, Dallas, Denver and metropolitan San Francisco, he
But most likely, the majority of Sundance's carriage
on TCI will be digital. A year ago, the network's East and West Coast feeds were
actually on pods nine and 10 of HITS. But shortly thereafter, HITS changed its compression
ratio, and Sundance was bumped off its lineup, Aidem said.
Sundance is working with HITS to find a new name for
transponder 8, currently known as the urban pod, which, Aidem said, implies that the
programming is only suitable for city systems. Rather, programming on HITS pod 8 is
"hip, cutting-edge and younger-skewing," he added.
"We think that it's a very sexy location,"
That transponder currently includes networks such as BET
Movies/Starz!3, Ovation-The Arts Network and International Channel.
Sundance currently has about 4 million subscribers, and it
expects to reach about 5 million by the end of the first quarter of 1999 with launches by
Time Warner Cable in Minneapolis, Chicago and Fort Lee, N.J., among others, Aidem said.
Trio and NWI, two Canadian-based services, weren't
sure which HITS pod they would be assigned to, according to Catherine Rasenberger, whose
Rasenberger Media consulting firm is handling affiliate sales for the two channels. Both
networks now reach 4 million homes in the United States through DirecTv Inc. (see story,
Rasenberger called the HITS deal the two channels'
first major expansion in the United States.
"Once U.S. subscribers see our service, we think that
they'll appreciate the value and high quality of our content," Rasenberger said.
HITS has been steadily adding to its lineup, particularly
on pod 5, where it has already grouped branded digital networks such as Lifetime Movie
Network, The Biography Channel, History Channel International and Toon Disney.