Ryan Seacrest Joins AEG, CAA to Relaunch Mark Cuban’s HDNet

Seacrest, CAA and AEG abandon hopes of own network; will rebrand Cuban’s

Last Updated: January 18, 2012 @ 3:13 PM

Ryan Seacrest, CAA and AEG are folding their hopes of a new network into a plan to relaunch and rebrand Mark Cuban's HDNet as a new, pop-culture oriented network called AXS TV.

Seacrest began talks with agency CAA and entertainment company AEG in 2010 about launching a new network that sounds like it will target some of the same audience as E!, the network for which Seacrest anchors news.

Rather than begin fresh, Seacrest, CAA and AEG will team with Cuban to premiere a rebranded version of his network this summer, they announced Wednesday. Terms were not disclosed.

AXS, pronounced Access, will use AEG's live events presence and affiliation with more than 100 venues to cover live concerts and festivals, red carpet premieres, award shows and parties. The network will also have celebrity interviews, and continue to air HDNet programs including HDNet Fights, Inside MMA, Dan Rather Reports, Sunday concert series, and non-scripted series.

It will have productions facilities at AEG-owned-and-operated L.A. LIVE.

Ryan Seacrest Media holds an ownership stake in the new network, and will provide access to multi-media platforms, celebrities, and brands. Besides his E! and radio duties, Seacrest is the host of Fox's "American Idol," a job he has expressed interest in keeping after his contract ends this year.

CAA, which represents Seacrest, will contribute its experience, expertise, and entertainment relationships, the companies said.

"I’m incredibly excited to be in business with AEG, Ryan Seacrest, and CAA," said Cuban, the co-founder and chairman of HDNet. "This is a major step on our way to offering more live programming than any other entertainment and lifestyle network."

Timothy J. Leiweke, president & CEO of AEG, said the network would provide opportunities for tie-ins but would not limit them to those in business with AEG. "This is a platform for all agents, all promoters and all managers. It is not the creation of an AEG channel. It is about the fans and bringing the live experience to them,” he said.

Here's the release:

LOS ANGELES (January 18, 2012)– HDNet, AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media, and Creative Artists Agency (CAA) today announced a joint venture that will rebrand HDNet/HDNet Canada to launch AXS TV (pronounced: access). Scheduled to debut this summer, AXS TV will leverage the global reach and portfolio of content opportunities of its partners to create live entertainment and lifestyle programming. Capitalizing on AEG’s unrivaled presence in live events and affiliation with more than 100 of the industry's pre-eminent venues worldwide, AXS TV will provide viewers with exclusive behind-the-scenes access to live concerts and music festivals, red carpet premieres, award shows, parties, pop culture events, and in-depth interviews with the people and artists who make live entertainment so uniquely fascinating.


HDNet’s signature programming including HDNet Fights, Inside MMA, award-winning Dan Rather Reports, Sunday concert series, and select non-scripted series will continue on AXS TV.


As part of their agreement with the joint venture, DISH will offer a variety of unique music services to their subscribers.


"I’m incredibly excited to be in business with AEG, Ryan Seacrest, and CAA,” said Mark Cuban, Co-Founder and Chairman, HDNet.  “This is a major step on our way to offering more live programming than any other entertainment and lifestyle network.  And our partnership with DISH to offer unique subscriber services will allow AXS TV to change the value proposition between networks, distributors, and subscribers.  AXS TV will unquestionably be able to leverage our unique assets to do things no other network will be able to replicate."


With production facilities at AEG’s owned and operated L.A. LIVE (which includes venues such as STAPLES Center, Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE, Club Nokia and The GRAMMY Museum’s Clive Davis Theater), as well as their access to their worldwide network of the busiest venues of all sizes, AXS TV will have the inside track to programming that will connect audiences with the complete live experience. From show creation and development to rehearsals, sound-check and performance and right thru the after-party, viewers will get an immersive look into their favorite acts touring today, AXS TV will span the globe to bring viewers the best live entertainment events.


AEG is very pleased to be involved with Mark Cuban and HDNet and equally as proud to have partners like Ryan Seacrest Media and CAA,” said Timothy J. Leiweke, President & CEO, AEG.  “The live business continues to grow and expand and the ability to give fans the opportunity to experience live in a different way is something we have been looking for a way to do for years.”



“As part of a point of emanation for content, we are excited to provide the resources of L.A. LIVE, the O2 and our London campus among the many assets we are bringing into the partnership.  In addition, we are excited that AXS TV will have a host studio at L.A. LIVE.  This is a natural tie-in for our ticketing platform, axs Ticketing, as well as our facilities around the world.


This is a platform for all agents, all promoters and all managers.  It is not the creation of an AEG channel.  It is about the fans and bringing the live experience to them,” Leiweke added.


Representatives of the joint venture also announced that DISH, the nation’s third largest pay-TV provider, has agreed to expand its carriage of the rebranded HDNet by offering it in the America’s Top 120 programming package, bringing millions more DISH customers access to the rebranded channel and resulting in AXS TV reaching well over 35 million North American households.


In addition to the increased distribution of the re-branded network, DISH will begin offering a large selection of AXS-branded Video On Demand concerts starting on March 15, 2012.  Capitalizing on AEG’s unrivaled presence in the promotion of live events and nationwide network of clubs, DISH will work with AEG to offer unique ticketing opportunities for DISH viewersofAXS TV. Amenities include special ticketing opportunities, premium seating, private viewing areas and food & beverage specials. Starting August 1, 2012, DISH and AXS TV will launch AXS Headliner Club, an online audition site providing local bands and musicians the opportunity to audition to perform at an AEG-affiliated club or theater.


“AXS TV brings DISH subscribers a premier TV destination for concert-goers to watch the most popular concert acts and provide opportunities for unique ticket sales at venues near them,” said Joe Clayton, CEO, DISH. “The new DISH is all about ‘more music, more movies, and more magic.’  So, we’re pleased to provide a majority of our subscribers front row seats to this innovative channel.”


AXS TVwill continue to be available on HDNet’s existing distributors including DIRECTV, Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Charter, NCTC-member systems, Suddenlink and Shaw (in Canada).


Ryan Seacrest Media holds an ownership stake in AXS TV, and will provide access to multi-media platforms, and celebrity and brand relationships, as well as assist in the corporate brand development for AXS TV. As part of the deal, Ryan Seacrest Productions, an independent entertainment production company, will also develop and produce programming forAXS TV.


”Over the last year, we’ve been diligently working with our partners AEG and CAA to strategize and explore how we could deliver quality live entertainment and lifestyle programming to a large audience. HDNet is the perfect partner to help us translate our vision into a reality, giving us an instant reach into 35 million homes when we rebrand the channel and launch AXS TV,” said Ryan Seacrest.  “Mark Cuban and Tim Leiweke bring a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial experience and spirit to this venture, and I’m confident our collective collaboration will make AXS a success,” he added.


CAA will access its extensive experience, expertise, and relationships in entertainment to help create valuable content relationships for the network and provide strategic advisory services in the areas of corporate development, marketing, technology, and brand integration and sponsorship, among others. Seacrest is represented by CAA.


“We have worked closely with AEG and Ryan Seacrest to conceptualize a new network that could benefit from our combined resources and create a new distribution opportunity for artists and content creators and their high-quality entertainment and lifestyle programming,” said David O’Connor, Managing Partner, CAA.  “Mark Cuban and his HDNet make a terrific partner for this venture, and we look forward to joining forces to help build AXS into a premier cable destination for entertainment enthusiasts.”


Financial terms of the new venture were not disclosed.