Reality Network Eyes Jan. Launch


Along with E! Entertainment Television cofounder Larry Namer, CBS' Amazing
runner-up Blake Mycoskie -- who launched successful outdoor-advertising
businesses in Nashville, Tenn., and Dallas -- is looking to launch Reality
Central next January.

The service, which seeks digital carriage, hopes to capitalize on the
programming trend that has shaken broadcast's drama-and-sitcom foundation in
recent years. It would amalgamate news and information shows, genre imports and
enhanced encore editions of programs that have already played in the United

The targets: adults 18 through 34, millions of whom have flocked to shows
like Joe Millionaire, Survivor and Fear Factor.

"The water-cooler talk today is about what happened on Joe
, or is Trista going to marry Ryan [ABC's The
]. The winners on these shows have become celebrities
themselves," said Namer, who serves as CEO. "This is not MTV's The Suite or Discovery 9. This is differentiated programs."

Added Mycoskie: "Many young people have grown up on [MTV's] The Real
. For them, this is what TV has been about. Reality Central is a way
for advertisers to reach an elusive group."

Starting Monday, Namer, Mycoskie and other TV veterans like former Spelling
Entertainment Group executive Karen Miller (Reality's senior vice president of
programming and marketing) and former Fox Cable Group general manager Andrew
Thau (head of business development) will be trying to reach cable and satellite
providers with a pitch promising two years of free carriage, plus up to a 10
percent cut of advertising dollars for charter affiliates.

Backed by first-round seed money totaling $25 million, including investments
by reality-show winners, Reality Central has a conservative business model that
calls for it to launch in 3 million homes.

To further entice distributors, Mycoskie said, Reality Central will develop
daily gossip and news content for broadband and video-on-demand

The marketing pump will include mall tours this fall, featuring many of the
30 reality programming stars that have signed promotional contracts with the
network, including Survivor winners Richard Hatch and Tina Wesson. The
executives expect to have 100 reality veterans in the fold by launch.

Namer said negotiations to acquire rights to shows that have aired in the
United States are under way, and he is confident that they can be procured for
reasonable fees: To date, reality shows have not enjoyed second lives in

"There's a lot of programming just sitting on shelves," he