Discovery Communications will launch Velocity, a new network aimed at an upscale male audience, in the fourth quarter of 2011. The new all-HD channel will replace the current HD Theater network and be available in about 40 million homes at the time of its launch.
Velocity will have more than 400 hours of programming in the categories of automotive, sports and leisure, adventure and travel. Current car-themed HD Theater series including Inside West Coast Customs, Mecum Auto Auctions, Café Racer and Chasing Classic Cars will anchor Velocity's initial primetime lineup.
"We started noticing some good ratings with some of our more
upscale lifestyle programming, especially in the auto arena, and we just felt
let's keep building on that, now's the time," Discovery COO
Peter Liguori told B&C of the timing of the rebrand.
Bob Scanlon, HD Theater's VP of production and development, will become senior vice president of Velocity. Scanlon has experience in the automotive programming genre; he was part of the group of founding management that launched Speedvision, the network that became SPEED Channel when it was acquired by News Corp. in 2011. Prior to that, he spent 15 years at ESPN where he was responsible for motorsports and live sports programming.
Henry Schlieff is currently the president and general manager of HD Theater, in addition to Investigation Discovery and Military Channel.
With Velocity, Discovery is looking to tap into an audience that it sees as unserved by its current portfolio of brands, college-educated men 35-54 with an annual income of $150,000 or above, with programming it didn't see on other networks. "This is a niche and an arena that television really doesn't
cover that extensively and it felt like an opportunity for us," Liguori said.
Discovery will formally announce the launch of Velocity on Thursday at its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York, where it will tout its target upscale male audience who Scanlon describes as
"pressed for time, they're achievers, they work hard and play hard, and they're consumers
of high end and luxury goods."
HD Theater launched as the first all-HD network in 2002.