The Huffington Post has found a home on cable TV for its eight-month-old Internet channel, HuffPost Live. Mark Cuban’s cable channel “AXS TV,” previously HDNet, will carry HuffPost Live’s programming for six hours a day, starting 5/13.
AXS and The Huffington Post will try to replicate some of the interactivity of the Internet channel by showing online comments on the right side of the television screen, and later by releasing an app that will encourage AXS viewers to comment on what they are watching.
Executives at The Huffington Post have been trying for months to have their channel picked up by cable and satellite operators, with nothing to show for it yet, reports The New York Times. Other backers of Internet channels have received lukewarm receptions at best. The most successful such channel, Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, has been picked up by Dish Network and four small cable companies and has been encouraging fans to put pressure on other operators.
In an interview, Roy Sekoff, the president and co-creator of HuffPost Live, did not rule out full-blown cable distribution in the future. He said AXS provided “a way to get on now,” emphasizing “now.”
The network will be shown weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET (the first half of HuffPost Live’s daily output), replacing the random assortment of repeats that AXS currently schedules during the day. Sekoff told the paper that The Huffington Post was not paying for the distribution, and AXS is not paying for the programming; the arrangement is mutually beneficial, he suggested, something that Cuban affirmed in a separate interview.
“It’s an opportunity for both of us to grow our audiences during the day,” he said.
AXS has existed since last July, when Cuban teamed up with Ryan Seacrest, the talent agency Creative Artists Agency and the events company Anschutz Entertainment Group to reformat HDNet, which Cuban helped to found in 2001. In February, CBS Corp. took an equity stake in AXS and said it would provide programming and promotional opportunities.
AXS chooses not to be rated by the Nielsen Company, a reflection of the fact that it reaches a relatively small number of viewers. It is available in about 41 million of the 100 million American households that pay for television.
RBR-TVBR observation: The deal underscores how hard it is for Internet video start-ups to find carriage on MVPDs, which are controlled by a handful companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, etc. that are more and more reluctant to add channels. The other route, of course, would be to offer Huff Post Live as a multicast channel, at least when it gets to 24/7.However, that market is getting tighter these days as the major TV broadcast groups are developing and adding their own in-house multicast channels.