NEW YORK — Cablevision Systems Corp. has created Radio City Networks to develop and produce entertainment programming, initially for pay-per-view, that emanates from the company’s Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden and the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
After distributing shows to cable operators as PPV, and once digital set-top boxes are rolled out, Cablevision envisions Radio City Networks as offering a number of live and library programs on demand. All Radio City Networks’ programming will be transmitted in HDTV format.
“We don’t see this as us jumping into pay-per-view,” said Josh Sapan, president and CEO of Rainbow Media Holdings, the programming arm of Cablevision Systems. “The future vision is much more important. In the near term, before the technology comes into place, (the programming) will be used as pay-per-view.”
RCTV will produce six events — all as-yet unnamed — in 1999 to be distributed via PPV.
Sapan said that when the advanced set-top boxes offer subscribers many options, Radio City Networks will have its own navigator that will guide viewers to various offerings under the Radio City brand.
“Amidst a myriad choices, brand will be all important,” said Sapan.
Kline as prexy
Cablevision appointed eight-year Rainbow veteran David Kline president of Radio City Networks. Kline will also maintain his current responsibilities as head of the Rainbow Advertising Sales Corp., a large cable advertising rep firm.
Dennis Patton will become senior VP of planning and development for Rainbow. In his new job, Kline will report directly to Sapan. Previously, Patton managed MuchMusic as the net’s senior VP and general manager.
Radio City Networks will also assume management control of the domestic version of MuchMusic, a musicvideo channel jointly owned by Rainbow and Chum, the company that built the Canadian MuchMusic into that country’s dominant music service.
MuchMusic’s affiliate sales team will sell Radio City Networks’ events to cable operators. Also, Radio City productions may run on MuchMusic after their PPV premieres.
Under the new structure, Radio City Networks will include Radio City Television (RCTV) and MuchMusic USA.
Events will be priced around $29.95, but Sapan said RCTV will try to sell multisystem operators on offering the entire series of events free or at steep discount for preferred customers.
Other than parent company Cablevision, Sapan said no other MSO has signed up for the Radio City events. He said Much-Music’s affiliate sales staff will begin selling the events soon.