NBC Prepping Bravo HD Net


Looking to demonstrate its commitment to expand and improve Bravo, NBC plans
to launch a stand-alone high-definition version of the cable network within the
next six months, according to officials.

"We really feel we need to have a place at the table in HD," NBC Cable
president David Zaslav said last week. "And Bravo HD presents a real unique
opportunity for us to participate with a separate cable channel. This is central
to our core strategy to extend the reach and reinforce the fact that we're
really committed to Bravo."

NBC officials are considering calling the HD network "Bravo Plus" or "Bravo
Plus HD," according to Zaslav. That's because the HD channel will not only
include a simulcast of Bravo programming converted to HD, but also special
content, some of it potentially provided by NBC and some created only for Bravo

Developing an HD version of Bravo -- a pricey proposition -- marks NBC's
first major strategic move for its cable-network acquisition. The "Peacock
Network" -- in part looking for a cable outlet for some of its entertainment
programming -- acquired Bravo from Cablevision Systems Corp. last year for $1.25

Zaslav would not spell out the size of the "substantial investment" NBC would
have to make for the HD version of Bravo, but he claimed that NBC "is ready to
spend some real dollars to make it a quality service."

As for Bravo HD's potential rate card, NBC Cable is ready to sit down with
cable operators and develop a viable business model for the fledgling

"There are some distributors that want to charge a lot for HD and offer it in
a package," Zaslav said. "There are a number we've spoken to who say, `We'll
offer everybody [HD networks] a la carte at a higher rate.' There are some that
say they want to do it for free."

He added that he's not opposed to operators offering Bravo HD
"independently," or a la carte, for "a higher price," because those with HDTV
sets today are "pretty willing to spend almost anything to get as much HD"
content as possible.

Ted Hearn contributed to this story.