MovieWatch has landed its first cable carriage deal, closing a contract with
the National Cable Television Cooperative, which represents small systems,
officials said Tuesday.
The carriage deal is essentially a hunting license for MovieWatch to seek to
be included in the digital packages of members of the NCTC, which represents
cable operators with a total of 14.5 million subscribers.
MovieWatch, which now plans to launch midyear, already has a carriage deal
with DirecTV Inc. that will put it in 11 million homes.
The service, which will offer original programming on movies, was founded by
Hubbard Media Group, a subsidiary of Hubbard Broadcasting Inc. Hubbard owned
direct-broadcast satellite provider U.S. Satellite Broadcasting Inc. before it
was sold to DirecTV. As part of that deal, DirecTV agreed to offer DBS carriage
for future Hubbard programming ventures.
MovieWatch has shot nine pilots for series for its program lineup, according
to president Rod Perth, who said that amount of original fare is highly unusual
for a start-up network.
Its schedule will focus on movies in all of their windows of release, with an
emphasis on pay-per-view, video-on-demand and premium channels. The network will
also have a localization feature that will provide guidance to movies airing on
individual cable systems.
With the NCTC deal, Perth estimated that MovieWatch will be in at least 12
million to 13 million homes when it debuts.
DirecTV was to have launched MovieWatch Jan. 21, but that premiere was pushed
back so that the network can try to line up more subscribers, according to
"We're well on our way to gaining the distribution we need to launch," he