EchoStar Communications Corp. is going Hollywood in a
little way. The direct-broadcast satellite company is producing an original show, Dish
for Kids, which is scheduled to launch Oct. 3 on Dish Network's promotional
The 15-minute show is designed to give kids a sneak preview
of the wide range of family-oriented fare available to Dish Network viewers throughout
each following week.
"This is purely targeted to kids," said Brian
Olsen, who joined EchoStar as executive producer about two months ago. "That's
the next generation of subscribers."
Olsen noted that in many households, kids already dictate
much of the TV viewing. That's why the clips from Dish for Kids will go beyond
cartoons to feature space exploration, mountain climbing, tiger hunting and whale
Highlighting certain shows from Discovery Channel or Home
Box Office, for example, and not just made-for-children programming on Nickelodeon or
Disney Channel, might help kids to find choices that they can watch with their families.
"Because of the huge variety of programming available
on Dish Network, there may be things that they wouldn't otherwise know about,"
The pretaped segments will be shot at a studio at
EchoStar's Denver-area headquarters, and postproduction work will be done at its
facilities in Cheyenne, Wyo.
EchoStar tapped local ninth-grader Brittany Troisi to host Dish
for Kids. In seeking a host, Olsen said, EchoStar was looking for "somebody
bright and intelligent, somebody who's good in school and has a broad range of
interests -- the kid next door."
Initial reaction from programmers has been positive, Olsen
said, adding that some networks may help to draw interest to the new show by offering
prizes and sponsoring promotions.
Viewers will be encouraged to interact with the show by
sending postcards and letters to the host. It's a low-tech version of the interaction
that EchoStar offers with its live "Charlie Chats," during which chairman and
CEO Charlie Ergen often gives away prizes to viewers who send in prompted e-mail messages.
"We'll start simple and go from there,"
Olsen said. "This is very much a work in progress."
Someday, an expanded version of the show could give kids
across the country a platform for airing their own home videos, highlighting their
hometowns from a kid's point of view, Olsen predicted.
In the meantime, he said, "the cornerstones of the
show are the great programming and the great host."
EchoStar will alert its viewers to the new Dish for Kids
through cross-channel promotions and its monthly Charlie Chats. The company has no initial
plans to sell advertising on the show, which will have hourly start times in all time
zones on Saturday mornings to reach as wide an audience as possible.