Sonar Entertainment will offer 1989 cowboy epic “Lonesome Dove” and more than 500 other made-for-TV miniseries and movies through YouTube’s recently launched pay-channel platform — though how many takers it will get for such older library fare is an open question.
YouTube in May kicked off its pay-channels initiative with 53 channels, spanning genres from kids’ programming to mixed-martial arts and horror movies to British TV fare. Neither the Google-owned site nor its partners have disclosed how many subscribers have signed up in the intervening two months; YouTube says the initiative currently is in a “pilot” phase and expects to expand the program with self-service pay channels later in the year.
Initial titles on Sonar’s channel include Larry McMurtry’s four-part “Lonesome Dove” starring Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall; “Merlin” with Sam Neill and Isabella Rossellini; “Tin Man” with Zooey Deschanel; “Aftershock” with Jennifer Garner; “Dying to Belong” with Hilary Swank; “Good Fences” with Danny Glover and Whoopi Goldberg; “The Yearling” with Philip Seymour Hoffman; and “True Women” with Angelina Jolie.
“Our library is rich with beloved and acclaimed titles, perfect to be watched over and over again,” Sonar Entertainment topper Stewart Till said in a statement. “We welcome this opportunity to make them available all in one place, easily accessible to a broad audience.”
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New York-based Sonar, founded by Robert Halmi Sr., owns rights to 1,000-plus titles comprising more than 3,500 broadcast hours of programming. After a bankruptcy reorg and the exit of Halmi and his son, Robert Halmi Jr., company last year changed its name from RHI to Sonar.