Channels join NBC Uni, News Corp. venture


NEW YORK -- NBC Universal and News Corp. said Wednesday that TV Guide and cable channels Fuel TV, Oxygen, Speed and the Sundance Channel will join their online video joint venture set to launch in the summer.

The Sundance Channel, an indie film network owned by Robert Redford, NBCU and CBS Corp., will provide full-length original series, short films and shortform content shot exclusively for the Internet. Included in their package will be the green-friendly series "Big Ideas for a Small Planet" and the Jay Bakker reality show "One Punk Under God."

Fuel TV, News Corp.'s extreme sports channel, and Speed, a motor sports network owned by Comcast Corp. and News, will provide shortform content to the venture and will host programming on their own sites.

Oxygen, a women's network owned by Oxygen Media, will also contribute shortform content. Initially, this will come from its shows "The Bad Girls Club," "Fight Girls," "50 Funniest Women" and "Our Bodies, Myself."

Gemstar-TV Guide International, Inc.'s TV Guide will distribute content from its broadband network including reviews and celebrity interviews. The company also will present highlights from its original series "America's Next Producer."

"Each of our new content partners has a reputation for creating premium entertainment experiences designed to fulfill television viewers' more eclectic needs," said George Kliavkoff, chief digital officer of NBCU and interim CEO of the joint venture. "We are delighted they have all agreed to contribute their compelling content to our venture."

These channels will be joining the network on a nonexclusive basis. The venture already has a nonexclusive agreement with Comcast, which, in addition to Speed, will provide content from its E!, Style, G4, Versus and Golf Channel properties. This month, Internet network CNET also signed up on a nonexclusive basis.

Announced in March, the joint venture will make NBC, News Corp. and other video content available through a new portal, as well as Time Warner's AOL, Microsoft's MSN, News Corp.'s MySpace, Yahoo and Comcast. It is designed to rival Google Inc.'s YouTube property, which has come under scrutiny for copyright issues.