The Cost of a Premium Cable TV Channel?

total investedHow much does it cost to start up a premium cable channel assuming you already have a library of programming to show? Apparently $110m to $150m is a good start.

Last April, in a surprise announcement, Lions Gate, Viacom (Paramount) and MGM announced plans to launch their own premium cable channel.  Soon after, Business Week reported former Showtime exec Mark Greenberg was set to take the helm.  Besides those two tidbits of information, there’s been much speculation but limited detail.  A new SEC filing, however, adds a little bit more.

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Whale Watching: Icahn Picks up More Lions Gate

whale-watching-sm.jpgWhale watching isn’t just a pastime in coastal towns.  In financial circles, the biggest of the big, the heaviest of the heavy hitters, aka the “whales,” often draw a crowd too.  Investors flock to see where the Buffet’s, the Soros’ and the Icahn’s of the world are deploying their capital.  It’s a chance to learn, or maybe even ride the coattails of an expert’s insight to a nice return.

For Carl Icahn watchers, the latest company to watch is Lions Gate.  As of June 30th, 2008, filings show Icahn had 3.65%  of the “mini-major” production company, or 4,289,508 shares.  This month he doubled down.

SEC filings reveal Icahn acquired more than four million additional shares in October.    The individual buys, as listed in the filings, are detailed in the table at the end of this article.

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Netflix Adds Starz

nflx-starz.jpgIf content is king, Los Gatos based Netflix seems to be moving to try and grab some sort of throne for their subscription based on-demand video distribution service – and they’re not hesitating, even in spite of the prospect that widespread consumer adoption might be years away.  Last week, the company announced catalog boosting deals with CBS and Disney.  Today, they added more film and TV content for their streaming video service through a partnership with Liberty Entertainment’s Starz.

Per disclosed terms of the deal, approximately 2,500 programs from Starz library will be added to the “Watch Now” catalog of streaming titles.   As with other “Watch Now” content, the programs will be available at no added charge for all Netflix subscribers who pay for an unlimited monthly rental program.

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Netflix Adds CBS and Disney to Watch Now Service

netflix watch nowIn the movies, “if you build it they will come.” In reality, customer acquisition isn’t so easy. You’ve got to build your theater (or stadium) before you can fill the seats with customers.  Then you have to let your customers know there’s a show to see.  Once they’re aware, you need to make sure you give them something good enough to get them to come and keep coming back.  Slowly but surely, Netflix is working through this process with digital delivery.

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Apples Fall Colors: New iPod Nano and upgraded Touch Revealed

new ipodsAs unpredictable as Apple can be, the marketing machine in Cupertino is also prone to keeping to a schedule. Since planting a flag claiming Tuesday’s as their own, every one since has been “iTunes Tuesday,”  Apple’s branded day for releasing new music.   Since 2005, Apple has also kept to a schedule with product upgrades.  On either the first Wednesday (2005 and 2007), or the second Tuesday (2006 and this year) in September, new iPod Nano’s are released.

Today, at the much hyped, and wildly anticipated Apple press event in San Francisco – Apple delivered on time.    As foreshadowed by early posters, and largely as predicted by the Apple -watching media:  Steve Jobs took the stage to reveal slate of evolutionary changes to the iPod lineup.

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Sharing Video: Whole House DVR Service from AT&T

Like many American households, I have more than one Television; one in the living room and one in the bedroom.  Also like many houses, I only have one DVR.  That creates an occasional nuisance.  I can’t crawl into bed and watch a show saved in the other room.  In the bedroom, where there’s only a standard set top box,  I’m stuck watching only scheduled broadcasts despite the library of stored programs I’ve accumulated.  As problems go, it’s a small one. Still, there’s a yearning for locally networked cable boxes, appliances that will let me pick and choose which "time shifted" programs I want to watch regardless of which room I’m in.   For AT&T customer’s – there’s now a real solution that makes that possible.

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Venture Report: $32m for Miniweb

miniweb financingAbout year and a half to two years ago, the big money was going into Internet video platform services.  One after another companies hoping to rival YouTube in content aggregation, or IPTV services dreaming of better content delivery, closed venture rounds in excess of ten and twenty million dollars.  Today, the hot zone for massive venture investment may be interactivity. 

In late August, San Mateo based Conviva secured $20m for their interactive live broadcast platform.    Today, UK based Miniweb announced the closing of a $32m round.

Miniweb was founded in 2007, the result of a management buyout (“MBO”) of select interactive assets from British TV service BskyB Click to Read More

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