Now that USA Network and Sci Fi Channel are in the family, NBC Universal is busy overhauling its Bravo HD+ service. The result will be a pan-NBC Universal Cable HD channel.
"We have a much broader array of cable brands and a stronger programming asset to draw from for HD," says Jean-Briac Perrette, senior vice president of new media development for NBC Universal Cable.
Bravo HD+ launched last year with shows like The West Wing, Cirque de Soleil
and performance specials. So far, Cablevision, Mediacom, Insight Communications, DirecTV and Voom offer the service, but major players Comcast, Time Warner and Cox haven't signed on. With additional high-profile content from USA and Sci Fi, the HD service could prove enticing to operators.
The channel's transition will happen slowly in the coming months.
NBC Universal has decided to simulcast USA's early-round U.S. Open tennis coverage on Bravo HD+, including prime time coverage of the tournament's first week, which kicks off Aug. 30. After Labor Day, Bravo HD+ will offer all of USA's tournament coverage, which runs through the Sept. 12 women's doubles final. In total, there will be 65.5 hours of HD tennis.
In coming months, USA's original series Monk
or off-nets of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
might pop up. Sci Fi theatrical movies and originals like Stargate Atlantis
could, too. Other possibilities: USA's popular Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and the network's movie library. In addition, some Universal Television classics, such as Knight Rider
and Quantum Leap, have been upconverted to HD.
In future, expect more of USA and Sci Fi's originals to be produced in HD.
At other cable networks, such as the Discovery networks and TNT, more original series and specials are being produced in HD to feed both their standard-definition and high-def networks.
Clearly, with more-diverse programming, Bravo HD+ warrants a name change. Perrette says that the cable group's marketing team is busy exploring options.