VH1 digital domain

3 cablers ink for Classic musicvideo channel

NEW YORK — VH1 Classic, the digital-network clone of VH1 that focuses on musicvideos from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, has landed carriage deals with three big cable operators that will put the service before 8 million subscribers by the end of the year.

In a separate announcement, VH1 has started casting guest stars for “Strange Frequency,” the most expensive series ever undertaken by the network. “Twilight Zone”-like half-hour anthology series will premiere in the Saturday 10 p.m. timeslot this September.

Thesps on board include Ally Sheedy, Stuart Margolin, Peter Strauss, Wendie Malick, Patsy Kensit and Roger Daltrey.

As for VH1 Classic, the three cable operators who have agreed to add the web to their digital offerings are Time Warner, Adelphia and Comcast.

In operation for about a year now, VH1 is reworking its schedule to create themed blocks covering pop, rock, soul and metal.

Among the artists featured on VH1 Classic, which is aimed at baby boomers, are the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye, the Who, Stevie Wonder and the Police.

VH1 Classic aims to convince cable operators that they’ll be able to use the net as a solid add-on with which they can lure subscribers to embrace the digital boxes.

Conventional wisdom says pay-per-view movies and multiplex channels created by the pay TV networks HBO, Showtime and Starz will be the main drivers of digital boxes. But cable operators also are buying basic networks, many of them advertiser-supported, as an additional lure to subs. Like VH1 Classic, most of these ad-supported nets are clones of the mass-circulation networks.