Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
HDNet on the hunt for HD programming, distribution

HDNet, the all-HDTV network backed by Internet pioneer Mark Cuban, is on the prowl for new content and distribution deals that could broaden the availability of high-definition programming on cable.

HDNet, launched a year ago by Cuban and Philip Garvan of Colorado Studios, is negotiating a content partnership with Fox Entertainment and distribution deals with Comcast and Charter Communications, reports Cable World magazine.

Cuban told the magazine via e-mail that HDNet is talking to everyone, but does not have a time-line for any partnership negotiations.

Reports of new programming deals, especially sports content from Fox, would bolster HDNet’s position when ESPN begins its own HD network next April.

The rapid increase in HD activity on cable is partially a result of FCC Chairman Michael Powell’s plea at NAB2002 for cable networks to begin substantial HDTV broadcasting in early 2003. Powell’s move was an attempt to jump-start the sluggish broadcast DTV transition.

Unlike terrestrial broadcasters, leading cable operators responded positively to Powell’s request and will offer several major 24-hour HDTV channels in the new year. Ironically, if HDTV proves successful in the subscription environment, cable operators could end up being the chief beneficiary of a technology that was originally supposed to benefit over-the-air broadcasters.

HDNet currently claims to have one million viewers each day. The service is now available for free to about 200,000 DirecTV subscribers, including viewers in sports bars and in the consumer electronics showrooms of some 1,600 retail stores.

For more information visit www.hd.net.

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