HDNet is no more as of Monday.
Mark Cuban is quietly flipping the switch on his cable network’s new brand, AXS TV. The 11-year-old HDNet brand will be mothballed as part of a deal Cuban struck in January with AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media and CAA to transform the channel into an ambitious multiplatform venture focusing on live concerts.
Cuban declined comment via a spokesman.
As the network assumes a new identity, it will also add 8 million subscribers from a new carriage deal with Dish Network, which will give AXS TV the channel position once reserved for AMC. The “Mad Men” network and others owned by AMC Networks were yanked Saturday night as a result of a carriage dispute with the satcaster.
While HDNet is going away for good, the staples of its schedule remain including “Dan Rather Reports” and mixed-martial arts telecasts. However, the risque “Guys Night In” lineup including frisky fare such as “Girls Gone Wild” is not going to remain with AXS TV as of next week.
In its place will come more live-concert telecasts, though some new pieces of the schedule like a daily “AXS Live” show from its own studio has yet to be scheduled. While new or rebranded cable networks typically launch to considerable marketing-supported fanfare, Cuban seems to be taking a more iterative approach to cable launches. That could be a nod to his technology background or he could be avoiding the pressure that could come with a lot of promotional hoopla, as Oprah Winfrey’s OWN discovered the hard way.
HDNet was launched in 2001 as a hub for high-definition TV at a time when the technology was still a novelty in the marketplace. With the Dish expansion in place, AXS TV will be available in 35 million homes.