NBC Picks Up Sparrowhawk To Grow Global TV Portfolio

While some independent U.S. cable channels are still looking for a buyer, NBC Universal has its sights set on overseas networks, judging them to be a better bet.

NBC Universal will buy Sparrowhawk Holdings, which has a portfolio of global TV channels, including the international-versions of the Hallmark Channel. The deal does not include the U.S. channel.

NBC will acquire from Sparrowhawk's owners--Providence Equity Partners, 3i and the company management--18 feeds of the international Hallmark Channels, which air across 152 territories to more than 60 million subscribers.

The network will also get 580 titles of the Sparrowhawk International Library, which was formerly known as the Crown Media/Hallmark Library. Other international networks include Movies 24, KidsCo and Diva TV.

That brings NBC's total to 30 international channels. The goal is to get to 50 in the next two to three years, keeping a promise made by Jeff Zucker, president/CEO of NBC Universal to grow this area of the company.



In August 2005, Sparrowhawk bought much of Hallmark/Crown Media international assets. This was months before Crown Media tried to sell the U.S.-based channel. But with few takers, Crown Media decided to pull the channel off the market, and revamp it with new management.

Recent rumors had NBC Universal considering a possible deal for Oxygen, one of a handful of established stand-alone U.S. cable networks remaining. NBC dismissed those claims. TV executives say Oxygen has been hunting for a buyer for some time.

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