Channels Join Web Venture

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

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

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

Oxygen, a women’s network owned by Oxygen Media, will also contribute short-form content, initially from its shows such as 50 Funniest Women and Our Bodies, Myself.

Gemstar-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. “We are delighted they have all agreed to contribute their compelling content to our venture.”

These channels will join the network on a nonexclusive basis. The venture already has 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 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’s YouTube, which has come under scrutiny for copyright issues.