March 5, 2007
MGM Moves Its Brand, Video Archives into the HD TV Market

News has broken over the past few days that major film brand Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) is planning to launch a high-definition channel on cable and satellite, a first for the company. The plan would be to put the television business together and launch it by the end of 2007.

The channel will operate as a movie network, with no current plans announced for original content. Rather, the plan is to draw people in by offering high-definition movies, as well as its other movies and television shows.

The company is no stranger to running a television network, as its MGM Channel is available in 120 countries, not including the United States. According to this piece from a news release, the company launched an HD version of this channel in Poland, broadcast in Polish, in December.

James Hibberd with TelevisionWeek writes that the studio will be "drawing from its library of 4,100 theatrical titles-about 1,200 of which currently are available in the high-definition format-and hundreds of hours of television content."

The company's decision to go public with the announcement indicates that the MGM HD channel must be far enough along that they are optimistic about its release by the end of the year. Hibberd points out that the decision to go public may be linked to the recent announcement by DirecTV to have 100 high-definition channels available by the end of the year. He writes, "Though Mr. Lee declined to single out any video provider as the frontrunner to launch the channel, the DirecTV HD effort has caused an industrywide scramble for more bandwidth and HD content to remain competitive."

B. Greenway with the Home Theater Blog writes, "This is the sort of news us HD junkies just can't get enough of." Greenway points out that the main question at this point will not just be about the content but also whether MGM will air "hopefully aspect-correct films" from their library for the channel.

Just through its famed film brand and the large number of titles in its archive, MGM HD sounds like it would be a success. While other HD networks will have to strive to stay relevant as the novelty of HD slowly wears off and content matters more and more, MGM, with its four thousand titles and hundreds of hours of TV content, is poised to have plenty to keep a linear channel full, especially as it continues converting more of its films to the high-definition format.