September 6, 2001 (2001-09-06) (original launch; as HDNet) July 2, 2012 (2012-07-02) (relaunch; as AXS TV)
2929 Entertainment (20%) (through AXS TV, LLC) Anschutz Entertainment Group (20%) CBS Corporation (20%) Creative Artists Agency (20%) Ryan Seacrest Media (20%)
1080i (HDTV) 480i (SDTV)
The World's Greatest, Inside MMA, Tom Green's House To, Dan Rather Reports, Art Mann Presents
AXS TV (pronounced "access", stylized as axs tv) is an American cable and satellite television network that is managed by film company 2929 Entertainment (through AXS TV, LLC)—which they founded as HDNet (through HDNet, LLC) in 2001 before it was rebranded as AXS TV in 2012—with a consortium of partners consisting of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), Ryan Seacrest (through Ryan Seacrest Media), Creative Artists Agency, and CBS Corporation. The network's programming specializes in live music events, as well as comedy, movies, and mixed martial arts, among others. The AXS TV company includes the channel HDNet Movies.
The network originally launched as HDNet on September 6, 2001, designed as a high definition-exclusive service under the ownership of HDNet, Inc., which then was co-owned by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Philip Garvin, owner of Colorado Studios and Mobile TV Group. Originally, the network aired a variety of programming – much of it being male-oriented, prominently featuring series, sports events and concert performances. In December 2001 and January 2002, HDNet aired exclusive HD coverage of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan with former CNN correspondent Peter Arnett. In February 2002, the network originated eight daily hours of high definition content from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. This feed was picked up by NBC and aired in 24-hour rotation on the digital signals of NBC's stations.
The channel gradually expanded its carriage to satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network, as well as cable providers Charter Communications, Insight Communications, Mediacom, Suddenlink Communications, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse. On September 4, 2008, Cuban announced that the network reached an agreement with Comcast to carry both HDNet and HDNet Movies in various markets. The provider began to carry HDNet in many major markets on September 30, 2010. In November 2009, DirecTV became the first provider to offer video-on-demand services of HDNet and HDNet Movies.
On January 18, 2012, HDNet, Inc. entered into a joint venture with entertainment company/promoter Anschutz Entertainment Group, TV/radio personality/producer Ryan Seacrest and talent agency Creative Artists Agency, in which AEG, CAA and Ryan Seacrest Media would each purchase a share of the network, with Cuban retaining ownership. The network rebranded on July 2, 2012 as AXS TV, a name taken from AEG's ticket sales website AXS. With the purchase and rebranding, the channel gradually shifted focus to include a mix of entertainment news, lifestyle, pop culture and in-concert performance events.
Alongside the rebranding, Dish Network announced that it would expand the channel's distribution to customers who do not subscribe to an HD tier through a downconverted standard definition feed. The provider moved the network to channel 131 in the spring of 2012, increasing its carriage to at least 14 million Dish Network subscribers upon its relaunch as AXS TV. Through its relationship with AEG, AXS TV also plans to offer special promotions on concerts to Dish Network users who have subscribed to the channel. On February 14, 2013, CBS Corporation acquired partial ownership in the network, when it traded programming and marketing for a minority stake in AXS TV.
Original programming on HDNet included news programs such as the HDNet World Report and Dan Rather Reports, a weekly newsmagazine hosted by former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather; coverage of Space Shuttle launches; and male-oriented series such as Ultimate Trailer Show. HDNet also featured uncensored and unrated shows during late-night hours, such as Art Mann Presents, Bikini Destinations and Girls Gone Wild Presents: Search for the Hottest Girl in America. In October 2011, HDNet picked up Goodnight Burbank, the network's first scripted half-hour comedy. Originally created for the web, the show starred Hayden Black, Laura Silverman and Dominic Monaghan. HDNet's programming also included off-network reruns of series such as Smallville, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, JAG, Star Trek: Enterprise and Arrested Development.
HDNet also aired sporting events, including coverage of the National Hockey League from 2001 to 2008 and Major League Soccer; select motor sports events, including Champ Car live broadcasts in 2004, highlights from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and races from regional circuits; mixed martial arts, through Cuban's HDNet Fights promotion; the weekly series Inside MMA, which featured highlights and coverage from various MMA promotions; and Indiana University's Little 500 Bicycle Race. From 2009 to 2010, HDNet also aired weekly programming from professional wrestling promotion Ring of Honor, and served as a television partner of the United Football League, primarily airing the league's Saturday night games. The network dropped UFL coverage prior to the 2011 season.
As AXS TV
Following its July 2012 re-launch, AXS TV continued to air several programs carried over from HDNet, including Dan Rather Reports, MMA events (now under the AXS TV Fights banner), movies, and off-network series. However, the channel began to gradually shift its focus towards "music, pop culture and lifestyle-oriented" programming, such as concerts, and general entertainment. The network's flagship show, AXS Live—a daily entertainment show that broadcast from the L.A. Live concert venue and aired weekly, Monday through Thursday—premiered on July 14, 2012, covering news stories in entertainment, fashion, sports, music and celebrity. AXS Live featured a revolving panel of hosts, until comedian Ryan Stout stepped in on August 12, 2013; he continued to serve as host until the final episode on October 30, 2013.
Concerts & music festivals
In 2013, for the first time ever on television, AXS TV broadcast select concert footage from the Stagecoach Festival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
In 2014, AXS TV presented the television debut of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, in addition to broadcasting the 2014 Stagecoach Country Music Festival and the 2014 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, for the second consecutive year.
The network's 2015 festival slate included the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (April 17-April 19) for the second consecutive year; the Stagecoach Country Music Festival (April 24-April 26); and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (May 1-May 3) for the third consecutive year. Additionally, the network announced that it will broadcast footage from the 2015 Rock on the Range (May 15-May 17) and the 2015 Firefly Music Festival (June 19-June 21), for the first time ever.
AXS TV's 2016 festival tour included Zac Brown Band's Southern Ground Music & Food Festival (April 16–17), both weekends of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, (April 23–24, April 29-May1), Monster Energy Carolina Rebellion (May 6–8) and Hangout Festival May 20–22.
As part of its music programming lineup, AXS TV broadcasts a wide variety of concert events from across the country and around-the-world. This includes a Sunday night concert series featuring performances from artists such as Carrie Underwood, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young and Elton John; themed artists takeovers, highlighting a variety of bands in day-long blocks that feature music videos, concert performances, interviews and more, with notable takeovers from Slash and Matchbox Twenty; as well as other live and taped music events such as the Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards tribute to Gregg Allman and The Doors, hosted by Sammy Hagar and the live broadcast of the 2014 Farm Aid music festival that featured performances by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews.
In 2014, AXS TV broadcast the inaugural Alternative Press Music Awards, hosted by Mark Hoppus. The award show returned to AXS TV on July 22, 2015 hosted by Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat of All Time Low and featuring performances from Weezer, Panic! at the Disco, and Simple Plan among others.
In January 2016, AXS TV premiered a new concert series called Live From Red Rocks taped at the historic Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. The series featured hour-long concerts from Cheap Trick, Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler, Grace Potter, Counting Crows, and Alan Jackson.
Since 2013, AXS TV has broadcast the original weekly live concert series The World's Greatest Tribute Bands hosted by Katie Daryl. The series showcases top tribute acts performing live hour-long concerts from the Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. Featured bands have paid tribute to a variety of artists including Prince, Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks and the Beastie Boys, as well as many classic rock bands such as KISS, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, and Aerosmith. The show was previously broadcast live from the Roxy Theatre. The series returned for its seventh season in September 2016.
Music inspired & entertainment programming
Since 2013, Dan Rather has hosted the hour-long original series titled The Big Interview featuring in-depth interviews with a variety of celebrity guests as they join Rather for candid discussions about their lives and careers. Notable guests include Gene Simmons, Weird Al Yankovic, Don Rickles, Wynona Judd, Jack White, Carlos Santana, Carol Burnett and Alan Alda, among others.
AXS TV announced a new documentary series, to be hosted by Dan Rather, on April 16, 2014. Dan Rather Presents, an in-depth investigative journalism program focusing on challenging issues, premiered on May 6, 2014. The debut episode, One Way Ticket to Nowhere: America's Mental Health Crisis, detailed the country's medical treatment for and handling of the mentally ill. That same year, on December 5, 2014, Rather hosted a special two-hour documentary Unwanted in America: The Shameful Side of International Adoption, examining multiple cases of failed international adoption throughout the United States, and what happens to those children who get caught in the middle.
On August 6, 2014, AXS TV announced it would be broadcasting the 11th season of The X Factor UK, with the episodes airing 24 hours after their respective UK broadcasts. The series premiered on Sunday, August 31, 2014, marking the first time that the British series had aired in the U.S. The 11th season notably featured the return of Simon Cowell and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini to the judging panel, joining music manager Louis Walsh and pop singer Mel B, making her debut as a full-time judge. Ben Haenow was the winner of this season. The X Factor U.K. returned for a second consecutive year, premiering the singing competition's 12th season in fall 2015.
Rock & Roll Road Trip with Sammy Hagar Presented by Mercury Insurance is an original series featuring Sammy Hagar as he drives across the country to interview and jam with influential artists including Tommy Lee, Bob Weir, Alice Cooper, and Nancy Wilson. The series also presents Hagar’s personal experiences and rules of the road, as he tours with his group The Circle. The six-episode first season premiered on AXS TV Jan. 24, 2016.
As a part of its Winter 2016 lineup, AXS TV premiered the original music series Breaking Band which paired well-known artists with emerging musicians to mentor, then perform together. Hosted by Donovan Leitch, the first season premiered Jan. 24, 2016 and included episodes featuring Dave Navarro, Mark McGrath, Sebastian Bach, Robin Zander, Belinda Carlisle, and Moby.
AXS TV announced it acquired the off-network cable rights to air the country music drama Nashville in June, 2015. In anticipation of the series premiere on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, the network announced Dan Rather will sit down with stars Connie Britton and Charles Esten for a special episode of The Big Interview Sept. 22.
On September 10, 2014, AXS TV announced production of an original country music-themed reality docu-series titled Discovering Lucy Angel. The 13-episode series is directed and executive produced by Jonathan "J.T." Taylor, who is known for creating the Emmy Award-winning series The Osbournes. Discovering Lucy Angel follows mother-daughter trio Lucy Angel and their family, The Andertons, as they work together to launch their music career in Nashville. The series premiered Tuesday, January 13, 2015.
AXS TV announced a partnership with Sharknado creator The Asylum to produce the network's first ever made-for-TV movie, conspiracy thriller Elvis Lives! The film purports to take the legend of rock'n' roll icon Elvis Presley to the next level, wondering, "That if Elvis never really left the building?" Plagued by drug addiction and a failing voice, the King is desperate to make things right with himself, his deceased brother and God. His attempts to get back on track are thwarted, however, after he helps the cops bring down a powerful crime syndicate — putting his family in danger and sending him on a journey that will change his life forever. A premiere date for the film has not yet been announced.
In December, 2015, AXS TV announced it has acquired David Hasselhoff's U.K. scripted comedy series Hoff the Record. The series, which premiered March 31, 2016, follows Hasselhoff, playing a fictionalized version of himself, who moves to the U.K. to get his career back on track while navigating through increasingly surreal and hilarious circumstances.
Thursday nights comedians take the stage at the Gotham Comedy Club in New York to perform live on the weekly stand-up comedy series. Each broadcast features a well-known star as host who performs a live set before introducing a line-up of up-and-coming comedians. Notable hosts include Jim Breuer, Lewis Black, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, D.L. Hughley, Bobby Lee, Bill Engvall and Tim Meadows. The series, which has aired since 2012, kicked off its sixth season with host David Hasselhoff on March 31, 2016.
In promotion of the series debut, Hasselhoff hosted a "Hoff-A-Thon" on March 26, 2016 featuring a 30-minute special titled "Hoff on Hoff" and an hour-long, sit down interview with Dan Rather as a special episode of his AXS TV series, "The Big Interview."
AXS TV launched Tom Green Live on October 3, 2013. Hosted by comedian Tom Green, the talk show featured interviews with celebrity guests, as well as an interactive format where viewers were invited to call in live using video chat. Comedian and Law & Order: SVU star Richard Belzer was Green's inaugural guest. Tom Green Live finished its third season—which had appearances from Steve Carell, Weird Al Yankovic, Dana Carvey, Adam Carolla and Buzz Aldrin, among others—on November 13, 2014.
AXS TV Fights is the brand name of AXS TV's live mixed martial arts (MMA), Muay Thai and kickboxing broadcasts on Friday nights. The network currently broadcasts events from promotions including CES MMA, Legacy Fighting Allaince, Lion Fight Muay Thai. It was formerly known as HDNet Fights.
'Inside MMA' was a weekly MMA talk show. It was the longest running and only independent on television. Hosted by combat sports personality Mauro Ranallo and UFC Hall of Famer Bas Rutten, the weekly series provided an in-depth look at the world of MMA, with live breakdowns, talk, highlights, and analysis from major MMA organizations such as the UFC, Bellator, and the World Series of Fighting. 'Inside MMA' aired its final episode on Sept. 30, 2016, ending a 9-year, 10-season, 433-episode run.
The network also airs the weekly professional wrestling series New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Since the tournament was founded in 2011, AXS TV has annually broadcast half of the games from the Battle 4 Atlantis Men's Division I College Basketball tournament from Paradise Island, in Nassau in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving week.
In August 2015, AXS TV premiered the reality adventure web series Exploring Kaman starring NBA All-Star Chris Kaman. The six-part series chronicles Kaman and his eccentric entourage as they head out on an epic fishing trip to capture the elusive blue marlin.
On May 18, 2009, Time Warner Cable announced that it would drop HDNet and HDNet Movies from its systems on May 31. Bright House Networks, which Time Warner Cable negotiates network contracts on behalf of, told its customers that Time Warner Cable broke off negotiations with HDNet and HDNet Movies on a new contract. Subsequently, other HD channels by lower-cost providers such as MavTV, The Outdoor Channel, and The Sportsman Channel took over the channel slots vacated by the HDNet networks in various markets.
HDNet and HDNet Movies saw more carriage fallout in 2009. Providers that did not renew deals to carry HDNet and HDNet Movies included RCN, Mediacom and MetroCast Cablevision. Cox Communications dropped both networks in February 2011.
Major television providers in Canada also began to drop HDNet in 2010, including Bell TV, Rogers Cable, Cogeco, Shaw Cable and Shaw Direct in the spring of 2012. At present, however, select AXS TV programming airs on Bell TV's Vu! pay-per-view service.
HDNet Movies is a basic movie channel that debuted in January 2003. The network focuses on uncut, commercial-free movies, and features a lineup of films spanning the 1950s through the 2000s. HDNet Movies runs general entertainment films in primetime, a youth oriented daytime and Friday night film block dubbed "kidScene, and a Sunday classic film block “In Retro,” featuring movies from the 1950s to the 1970s. The channel also airs monthly showcases of films selected by the Library of Congress National Film Registry for historical and cultural preservation.
HDNet Movies is currently carried nationally on DISH, DirecTV, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse; and regionally on cable providers such as Charter Communications, Service Electric, Suddenlink Communications, and SureWest.
In the fall of 2006, HDNet became available in Canada on Rogers Cable, Bell TV and Cogeco Cable; Shaw Cable began carrying the network in April 2007. As is the case with many U.S.-based channels, HDNet did not own the Canadian rights to some of its sporting events or off-network repeats aired in the U.S., and as such, these programs were blacked out and replaced with additional repeats of HDNet original programs. While referenced on the channel's website as "HDNet Canada," this alternate U.S.-based feed did not operate as a separate channel. Upon the rebrand to AXS TV, the network was dropped by two of its Canadian cable and satellite carriers.