TRIO CABLE OPERATION TO RELAUNCH IN BROADBAND FORMAT

NBCU Migrates Struggling Cable TV Channel to Online Only

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Instead of shuttering its troubled Trio cable channel, as many media watchers suspected it would, NBC Universal has decided to re-launch it as a broadband-only channel living on bravotv.com.
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Unique move
The move is believed to be the first time a linear cable channel has migrated into an online-only broadband format -- and underscores how valuable broadband content is becoming as marketers become more and more interested in advertising within streaming video content. By most accounts, the inventory shortage in the streaming video space has driven its CPM prices three to four times higher than that of traditional cable TV content.

In a statement, NBC Universal said the new broadband operation will launch Jan. 1 and more robust content will be added later in the year.

DirecTV contract
NBC Universal had been contemplating the fate of the small cable channel for the better part of a year. Last December, Trio’s contract with DirecTV lapsed and the network lost more than half of its 20 million subscribers. At the time, NBC Universal said it was committed to programming Trio and its Web site for loyal viewers and cable partners. The company had curbed the net’s programming budget and shuffled its staff, adding Bravo’s duties to the network’s president, Lauren Zalaznick. About the same time, media buying executives reported they where not hearing the network pitched aggressively by NBC Universal’s sales staff.

Programming strategy
Moving the channel’s home to Bravo’s Web site makes sense. Ms. Zalaznick oversees both channels, and they share a similar programming strategy of shows heavy on pop culture and arts content. The broadband channel will air several of Trio’s hit series, including “Brilliant But Cancelled,” a series about short-run TV programs.

Trio was launched about 11 years ago in Toronto by North America TV, a venture backed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., and grew into a media and critics’ darling for its smart, cheeky take on pop culture-related programming. It was even named in 2003 an “it” network by Entertainment Weekly.

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