In its first HD video-on-demand deal in Asia, AETN Intl., the overseas division of A&E Television Networks, has inked with Korea Telecom to offer a branded high-def VOD version of the History channel for South Korea.
AETN has launched HD History channels in the U.K., U.S., Scandinavia and Central Europe.
“We expect to take them out throughout Asia and Latin America over the next 12 months,” said Sean Cohan, AETN Intl. senior VP, international.Beginning this summer, the History HD VOD service will form part of Korea Telecom MegaTV. Launched last July, the IPTV service has rapidly built up a subscriber count of 550,000, offering interactive and VOD TV.
Deal underscores various strategies at AETN: the switch to totally high-def production; the embrace of VOD for its marketing and future revenue potential; and the building of an ever-wider channel portfolio to service segmenting markets.
VOD revenues were at the moment primarily a matter of visibility but would grow, Cohan said.
AETN Intl. boasted a standout at Mipdoc 2008, which wrapped Sunday: “Life After People,” History’s highest-rated special ever. It’s a sci-fi-like, f/x-laden portrait of what happens if the human race suddenly disappears, from rapid electricity switch-off to the death of rats.
For Mip, AETN is selling another spec, “King,” Tom Brokaw’s critically acclaimed analysis of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy.
AETN also is moving heavily into series, Cohan said.
“We’ll still do specials. But it’s often more effective to hook viewers by doing what we could do for one hour, but doing it over 15. And from a syndication perspective, it’s easier to market to buyers,” he said.
Also, as AETN rolls out ever-widening bouquets of channels, series act as channel tentpoles.
Docu skeins offered by AETN at Mip include CGI-laced real-life crime drama “Crime 360”; “Paranormal State,” turning on a paranormal research society case files; and “Shockwave,” which offers footage of catastrophes from around the world.