Blue Ant readies Smithsonian Channel for Canadian debut
October 23, 2013 | Chris Powell | Comments
Toronto’s Blue Ant Media is bringing some culture to Canadian airwaves with the launch of its newest HD service, the Smithsonian Channel.
Launching Nov. 13, the Smithsonian Channel is a rebrand of the former eqHD, one of four commercial-free high-definition channels – along with Oasis HD, HIFI and radX – acquired in Blue Ant’s 2011 purchase of High Fidelity HDTV.
The Canadian launch marks the first international foray for the U.S.-based specialty service, which is owned by Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institute. Programming for the channel falls under four main genres: natural history, air and space, pop culture and history.
While the Smithsonian Channel will continue to operate as a commercial-free service as per its license conditions, Blue Ant is actively pursuing sponsorship opportunities, said executive vice-president of programming Vanessa Case.
“When we became Blue Ant Media [the company was formerly known as Glassbox Television] and these channels became part of the company, it was the first time these four services really looked at a sponsorship model,” said Case. “It’s really only been in the last year-and-a-half that our TV sales division has gone out and looked into the environment to bring a core advertiser that is truly [aligned] with the brand.”
But Case said that even with the addition of sponsorship revenue, subscriber revenues are “key” to the Smithsonian Channel’s future. The service does have carriage with most major BDUs, although Blue Ant continues to work to secure additional carriage deals, said Case.
While the formal launch is still two weeks away, Blue Ant plans to preview some of the Smithsonian Channel’s programming – including a series called The Incredible Bionic Man – beginning next week.
Blue Ant also plans to continue with content partnerships it has developed with the likes of Parks Canada and The Walrus magazine, said Case. The Smithsonian Channel’s primary target is adults 35+ with a male skew, although Case said that it will be “very co-viewing friendly.”