As a highlight of it's upfront event, Discovery Communications Thursday promoted the launch of a new channel targeted at affluent men, set to take the place of its current HD Theater channel in late September.
Velocity, as the network will be called, will feature shows centered on the automotive, sports, adventure, leisure, and travel genres, and will include a mixture of original programming and shows carried over from HD Theater—including Inside West Coast Customs, Chasing Classic Cars, and Café Racer.
The rebranding of HD Theater comes amid a broader shakeup at the network in recent years as outdated or underperforming channels have been readily replaced by newer ones—with OWN, Oprah’s cable channel taking the place of Discovery Health late last year (though that move hasn’t exactly proven a swimming success) and The Hub replacing Discovery Kids last October (The Hub is also a children’s channel).
Velocity will be available in about 40 million homes at the time of launch, and network executives said that it will target college and graduate school-educated men earning around $150,000 or more per year. “We’re targeting a really high-end demographic,” said Bob Scanlon, svp at Velocity. “That’s the differentiator for us from other networks . . . these are new eyeballs to the company and our goal is to bring new advertisers”—particularly from among the automotive and the luxury goods industries.
Velocity will also be experimenting with 15-minute shows, rather than the traditional 30-minute programming because “this audience is so strapped for time,” said Scanlon.
The new channel takes the place of a network whose relevance has waned in recent years. HD Theater was conceived as a home for Discovery’s high-definition content when it was founded in 2002—long before high definition was as prevalent.
Discovery’s big bet, of course is that the auto market is robust enough to support a network centered on cars, and geared toward high-earning consumers. Scanlon says he’s confident it is. “Regardless of he state of the industry or economy, vehicle manufacturers still want to sell vehicles . . . if things do get tight in a tight economy, where are they going to look to sell? They’re going to look in this high-end market . . . those are the guys that will buy all the time,” he said.