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Discovery Sets MotorTrend Network Relaunch for Black Friday

Discovery plans to flip the switch on its rebrand of the Velocity cable channel as MotorTrend Network on Nov. 23, also know as the Black Friday kickoff of the holiday shopping season.

The switch comes a little over a year after Discovery set a joint venture with the MotorTrend Group, owner of the venerable Motor Trend monthly magazine. The rebranding is part of Discovery’s larger effort to build out multiplatform services around key programming genres such as automobile enthusiasts.

The fledgling MotorTrend Network streaming subscription service has about 200,000 subscribers who pay $5 a month for news, information and long- and short-form content. Programming that airs on the linear MotorTrend Network will premiere first on the subscription app.

Robert Scanlon, president of MotorTrend Network and head of video content for MotorTrend Group, said the chance to extend the Motor Trend brand to TV is “a great chance for us to cast a wider net among the 60 million self-identified auto enthusiasts in the country.” Velocity at present reaches abotu 73 million cable homes.

Scanlon has headed Velocity for the past seven years. He noted that the cabler was growing steadily every quarter, but the boost from the MotorTrend relaunch should further rev up growth. Subscriptions to the app have doubled during the past year with minimal marketing. The average age of the linear TV audience is 51, while the app user base is in the high 40s.

The promotional push for MotorTrend will begin this week with a series of custom spots lensed with some of Velocity’s top stars. The linear relaunch will bow at 6 a.m. with an array of fan-favorite episodes of Velocity series including “Bitchin’ Rides,” “Roadkill” and “Wheeler Dealers,” the latter of which has been Velocity’s highest-rated series and one of Discovery’s most popular exports on its global channels.

At 9 p.m., the channel will feature the special MotorTrend Live,” recorded at the SEMA auto show that took place in Las Vegas from Oct. 30-Nov. 2. The hourlong special, hosted by Chris Jacobs and Cristy Lee, features interviews with auto world personalities such as Dave Kindig, Kevin Schiele, David Freiburger, Mike Finnegan, Ant Anstead, Mike Brewer, Wayne Carini, Craig Jackson and Steve Darnell.

With few other contenders in the cable arena for the car-crazy demo, Scanlon sees a smooth straightaway ahead for MotorTrend Network. Discovery will heavily promote MotorTrend Network shows across its broad suite of lifestyle-centric cablers.

“We are going to super-serve this enthusiast audience,” Scanlon said. “We know what they respond to. Extending that out into the digital side is not that big of a stretch.”

(Pictured: “Wheeler Dealers”)

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