By DAVID BAUDER
NEW YORK — Discovery Communications Inc. is launching a television network for rich guys and their toys.
Called Velocity, the new network will replace the current network HD Theater in some 40 million homes on Sept. 25, Discovery officials said Thursday. The target audience is men with incomes of $150,000 a year and more.
“We just felt like this was a space missing in the marketplace,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications.
HD Theater was launched in 2002 with the specific purpose of showing high-definition versions of programs on other Discovery networks. The rapid adoption of high-def by consumers, and the addition of high-def versions of a full network’s signal, rendered HD Theater obsolete.
Discovery has tested a series of programs on HD Theater in recent months that will make the switch to Velocity. They include “Chasing Classic Cars,” “Cafe Racer” and “Mecum Auto Auctions.”
As those titles suggest, cars will be the “bull’s-eye” of Velocity programming, Zaslav said.
“Culturally, cars are so important for us guys in America,” he said. “We grew up dreaming about what the day would be like when we got our licenses and what cars we would drive.”
Velocity will also televise an upscale sailing race that touches on five oceans, travel programming to upscale locations, adventure sports and “real-life adrenaline shows,” said Robert Scanlon, senior vice president of Velocity.
If done right, Velocity could be a magnet for advertisers, who generally pay a premium to reach an upscale audience.
There are no plans for a network to appeal to rich women. Discovery also operates the Oprah Winfrey Network, TLC and Animal Planet, networks with strong appeal to women, Zaslav said.
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