MTV takes on here!TV, targets US gays with 'Logo'

MUMBAI: Gays in US will have another cable TV channel they can call their own come 25 February 2005. Called Logo, it is being launched by MTV Networks, a division of Viacom and its core target audience is lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) viewers.

And guess what, the channel is not depending on LGBTs coughing up money to watch Logo. MTV Networks has positioned it as an advertiser-supported outlet targeting primarily gays and lesbians, 25-49. The programming fare will be a mixture of original and acquired programming that is authentic, smart, inclusive and open-minded, says a MTV Networks press release.

And Indian anti-gay groups or moral police dont reach for your phones to alarm the authorities - Logo is not being launched in India. The channel is being rolled out in markets across America, including Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and San Francisco, through national cable operators, including Time Warner Cable, RCN and additional distributors that will be announced in the coming weeks.

Says MTV Netowrks chairman & CEO Tom Freston: "Creating a network specifically for the LGBT community is something we've wanted to do for a long, long time, and it's an idea we feel is overdue. Despite our nation's progress on civil rights and the growing visibility of gay people in business, society and even in television programming -- what has been missing is a full-time home for this important and influential audience on television. We have big plans and hopes for LOGO and I'm thrilled to finally announce its arrival."

Adds MTV Networks Music and Comedy Group president Judy NcGarth:"Logo is all about identity: the individual and collective identities present in the gay and lesbian community that are amazingly diverse, but are joined by similar points of view and sensibilities. MTVNetworks has a great history of connecting deeply with its audiences and it's our great hope that gay and lesbian audiences will connect with Logolike viewers connect with our other strong brands."

The network saw tremendous business opportunity in the launch of gay network. estimates are that the US has a 15 million adult gay and lesbian population with a buying power of - hold your breath! - $485 billion. Definitely not numbers you can just sniff at.

And to make the offering to advertisers, Logo is drawing up a TV commercial rate card which goes beyond the 30 second commercial spot. It?s quite likely that you will see advertising and marketing messages integrated with Logos television shows. The network is offering advertisers options such as product placement, editorial segments within programs involving their brand, online integration, development of contests and sweepstakes as well as off-channel marketing opportunities.

For its initial launch phase, Logo will have a mix of original and acquired programming. Logo is already reaching out to some of the most talented and creative producers and writers to develop original series and specials. In addition, original content is to be developed in collaboration with other Viacom networks, including Showtime, CBS News, VH1, MTV, Comedy Central and TV Land and will draw from its expertise in every area including entertainment, documentaries and news.

Additionally, deals are in place to acquire over 100 movie titles from a wide range of studios including, Sony, MGM, Paramount, Warner Bros., New Line, Showtime, Lions Gate, Sundance, Strand Releasing, and Sneak Preview Entertainment.

As a complement to the new digital basic channel, Logo will offer a subscriber video on-demand service (SVOD). The SVOD service will offer approximately 70% movies.

The other cable TV channels in Viacoms roster includes MTV, Comedy Central, BET and Spike TV.

Meanwhile, existing gay channel here!TV is not taking things lying down. Launched in August 2003, here!TV, which is viewed in over 22 million US homes, is expanding aggressively and expects to cover approximately 40 million cable homes by summer-end. Takers of here!TV are 25+ gay men and women interested in quality programming. Even as MTV gets a feel of the gay and lesbian television audience's reaction to its programming, , here!TV claims that it already has the largest gay-themed original content television library and that is going to work in its!TV library boasts of over 500 hours of feature films, documentaries and short-form programming from the Strand, Wolfe Video, and TLA catalogs. The channel's forte is sophisticated motion pictures and story-form series and has over 20 high quality story-form series and 30 motion pictures currently in development. here!TV's original programming includes 12-18 original motion pictures per year, acquired theatrical films and original story-form series.

The key question is: will here!TV be able to handle the bigger, more penetrative moves of MTV?

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