Cuban's HDNet to Relaunch as Live Entertainment Network

Relaunched network will debut this summer

Mark Cuban's HDNet is joining forces with sports and entertainment presenter AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media and Hollywood talent firm Creative Artists Agency to rebrand the network.

The relaunched network will be called AXS TV (pronounced "access") and will debut this summer with a slate of live entertainment and lifestyle programming, the companies announced Wednesday. The new network will benefit from the reach of AEG and will provide exclusive behind-the-scenes access to concerts, award shows and other pop culture events, they said.

Claiming an inside track to programming that connects the audience with the complete live experience, AXS TV plans to display touring acts from the creation and development of the show, to rehearsals, sound-check and performance, as well as the after-party.

"This is a major step on our way to offering more live programming than any other entertainment and lifestyle network," said Cuban, a billionaire who owns the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. "AXS TV will unquestionably be able to leverage our unique assets to do things no other network will be able to replicate."

AEG president and CEO Timothy J. Leiweke said in a statement, "The ability to give fans the opportunity to experience `live' in a different way is something we have been looking for a way to do for years."

Some existing programs on HDNet, including "HDNet Fights" and the newsmagazine "Dan Rather Reports," will continue.

As part of its agreement with the joint venture, DISH, the nation's third-largest pay TV provider, will provide a slate of unique music services to its subscribers, and in March it will begin offering a selection of AXS-branded video-on-demand concerts.

DISH will expand its carriage of the rebranded HDNet by offering the channel in its America's Top 120 programming package. AXS TV will continue to be available from HDNet's existing distributors, including DirecTV, Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other providers. In total, AXS TV is expected to reach more than 35 million North American households.

Ryan Seacrest Media holds an ownership stake in AXS TV, and Ryan Seacrest Productions, an independent entertainment production company, will develop and produce programming for AXS TV. But Ryan Seacrest, whose many on-camera roles include hosting Fox network's "American Idol," is not expected to appear on AXS TV.

Financial terms of the new venture were not disclosed.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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