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Discovery inks first 3D VOD deal

Discovery Networks International has fleshed out its 3D plans and inked its first-ever deal to provide 3D video-on-demand content. The channel operator cannot name the platform that it has completed the agreement with yet as the pay TV operator in question has not announced its 3D VOD service, but it will roll out in 2011.

“We’ve done one 3D VOD deal so far and there’s interest from a lot of distributors for 3D content,” Discovery International president and CEO Mark Hollinger told TBIvision.

In the US Discovery is launching a full-fledged 3D network with IMAX and Sony, but internationally Discovery’s 3D activity will take the form of VOD and programme sales for the time being.

“No distributor has come to us with interest for a full channel and they are mindful of the economics and bandwidth costs,” Hollinger said. “But it’s fine if the first step is VOD. We’re building an inventory of programming for the US channel and when that demand [for channels] is there we will be one of the first.”

Separately, Hollinger said that Discovery is investing in content for TLC, which has started rolling out internationally and will, the company says, be in 75 markets and 100 million homes by 2011. Discovery’s 2009 results revealed it had made personnel and back office cost savings, but these were outweighed by increased programming spend.

“We wanted to push expenses from corporate to on-screen and now that rebalancing is largely accomplished,” Hollinger said. “Now we will increase our programming spend around ‘big opportunities’. TLC is a ‘big opportunity’ and there will be incremental programming spend there. The same would happen if we launched another kids network in Latin America for example.”