FearNet Seeks Basic Carriage

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Subscription video-on-demand service FearNet will look to scare up operator affiliation deals this summer for its proposed Oct. 1 linear channel launch.

The multi-platform service, owned by Lions Gate, Sony Pictures Television and Comcast, will launch as a predominately digital-basic movie channel in time for the 2010 Halloween season, FearNet president Diane Robina said.

The network's in-house affiliate sales team is currently talking to the major multichannel distributors, including network parent Comcast, about the high-definition and standard-definition versions of the channel, although it has yet to secure any deals. Comcast, Cox Communications, Verizon FiOS TV, AT&T U-Verse, Insight Communications, Bresnan and Guadalupe Valley Systems offer FearNet content on demand, representing 28 million homes.
Much like the SVOD service, which launched in 2006, the channel will rely on Sony and Lions Gate films and original series, although Robina said the network has not secured rights to specific titles. Lions Gate has produced and distributed such horror movie franchises as Hostel and Saw, while other popular movies such as Night Of The Living Dead and Wishmaster are currently running on the FearNet Web site.
The move comes as the horror genre remains a top box office draw, with films like Shutter Island ($128 million at the box office), A Nightmare On Elm Street ($62 million) and The Wolfman ($61 million) among the top 20 revenue-grossing films thus far in 2010.
FearNet would join a limited list of digital basic cable-targeted movie networks that includes MGMHD, IFC, Fox Movie Channel, Lifetime Movie Network and Hallmark Movie Channel. FearNet will also compete with NBC Universal's Chiller Channel for basic cable dominance in the horror genre.
Robina believes the FearNet's VOD success - the service averages 12 million views per month - as well as its presence as the number one online horror movie destination generating 1.9 million page views a month, bodes well for its success on cable.
"We'll be an HD movie channel that appeals to a younger demographic - 18-to-34 year olds -- that is technologically savvy," Robina said. "It just seemed natural for us to expand into the linear space."
Robina said Fearnet also will have some original content, and is working on several projects, including an animated one with veteran TV actress Shannen Doherty, dubbed Mari Kari, currently running online that could appear on the channel.
"A lot of the [Sony and Lions Gate] movies that are made for direct to video could also appear first on the channel and then in the DVD stores," she added.

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