AXS TV, a fledgling cable channel that counts downtown L.A.’s Anschutz Entertainment Group as an owner, is doubling down on its music festival programming.

AXS announced last week that it acquired rights to televise five music festivals next year from AEG, which produces the events.

Charles Hirschhorn, president at AXS, said he expects the festivals to help solidify the channel’s image as a home for live music, which he called a big opportunity.

“There’s really an opportunity to create a home for live music festivals,” he said. “It’s a white space in the cable TV universe.”

Hirschhorn said the rights were a multimillion-dollar investment on the part of AXS.

AEG’s partners in the channel are Mark Cuban, Ryan Seacrest Media, Creative Artists Agency and CBS. AXS launched in 2012, taking over what was previously HDNet. It is based in Denver but has extensive operations and executive offices at AEG’s headquarters at L.A. Live. The channel reaches about 44 million households.

AXS has been working to become known for airing live events. This year it aired some programming from the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the Stagecoach Country Music Festival and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

But the channel will ramp up festival broadcasts next year with the addition of the Rock on the Range Music Festival in Columbus, Ohio, and the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Del.

The coverage will begin in March with a four-episode series leading up to the Coachella festival in April, sponsored by L.A.’s Mercury Insurance Group. During the festivals, AXS will air between four and seven hours of music programming.

The channel is currently lining up other sponsorship deals through AEG’s sponsorship division. Part of the idea with the sponsorship model is to limit commercial interruption during the broadcasts, similar to the Masters Golf Tournament, said Todd Kline, senior vice president of partnership and media sales at AEG Global Partnerships.

“The way we’re treating these festival broadcasts is very much like the Masters,” he said.

Hirschhorn said AXS will be bidding for the rights to air non-AEG music festivals, too.

Ultra HD

DirecTV this month began offering ultra-high-definition 4K programming to subscribers.

The El Segundo satellite company made about 20 movies and other pieces of video content from Paramount Pictures and K2 Communications available on demand.

The movies include “Forrest Gump” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” K2, which is known for producing Imax movies, is contributing content such as “Legends of Flight.”

The 4K format offers a picture with about four times the resolution of high-definition television. Content producers, TV set makers and programming distributors are all hoping it catches on to spur the next wave of consumer electronic and digital media purchases. The last big hope, 3-D TV, never really caught on.

The on-demand offerings from DirecTV will only be available to viewers who have Samsung 4K TVs. Earlier this year, DirecTV, Comcast, Netflix, M-GO and Amazon announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that they would distribute 4K programming to Samsung TVs.

But there are still challenges to be met. For one, 4K content offerings are still limited. And even as more TV shows and movies are recorded or reformatted into 4K, most people don’t own 4K TVs. What’s more, distributors such as DirecTV are still figuring out how to compress the signal so that it can be transmitted live.

And there is price: a 65-inch Samsung 4K set costs about $3,000.

DirecTV is hoping to begin distributing live 4K programming next year or the year after, Chief Executive Michael White told investors on a quarterly earnings call earlier this year.

Immaculate Transmission

After buying former Spanish-language “ranchero” station KHJ-AM (930) for $9.75 million earlier this year, non-profit Immaculate Heart Radio last week launched the station’s new format – Catholic programming in English.

The station held its launch celebration Nov. 17 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles, where Jose H. Gomez, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, gave the station his blessing. (He also tweeted about it to his 15,000 followers.)

The station also won an endorsement from Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, who is an honorary chairman of the station.

There are about 4 million Catholics in the L.A. area and two local Spanish-language Catholic stations to serve them. A previous attempt to launch a commercial, English-language Catholic station failed, according to KPCC.

Staff reporter Jonathan Polakoff can be reached at jpolakoff@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 226.

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