Startup Cable Nets Seek Millennial Viewers First

Multiplatform Fare’s The Key: Programmers

Millennials are the most desired demographic for the cable startups entering a crowded marketplace that’s already vying for the hearts and minds of 12-to-34-year-olds.

Offering content via multiple platforms is the imperative to reaching and securing this growing demographic of nearly 100 million tech-savvy consumers, network executives said.

“Millennials are at the cutting edge of technology, and we know the digital space is a big opportunity to reach them, and we believe that doing so encourages more viewing,” ABC Family president Michael Riley said. His network airs several programs that are among the most watched — and most followed via social media — on cable, including Pretty Little Liars and Switched at Birth.


Providing digital access to content millennials want to see will be the key to keeping them from cutting the cable cord as they get older, Evan Shapiro, president of upstart cable network Pivot TV, said. Participant Media-owned Pivot launched Aug. 1 with a linear channel targeted to the millennial demo sweet spot of 18-to-34-year olds. Its forthcoming app will give authenticated multichannel- video subscribers the opportunity to watch the network live on multiple platforms.

In coming months, broadband-only subscribers will also be able to get Pivot through the PivotTVApp via their broadband provider (often a cable MSO or telco) for a small monthly fee.

“Under 30, if you don’t have pay TV, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a cord … it means you have a broadband cord,” Shapiro said at the network’s July 26 Television Critics Association summer press tour presentation. “Those folks over the coming year will be allowed to get the Pivot app and authenticate it through their broadband provider for a small fee on top of their broadband service every single month.”

Digital and social media offerings are key to the success of music-themed Revolt TV’s upstart service, which launches in October. Hip-hop artist and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs told TV critics July 26 at a Revolt-sponsored TCA breakfast that the network will be music-news and culture-based with a robust social-media component that will keep millennials engaged on a 24-hour basis.

“The No. 1 interest for millennials is music, and Revolt TV is social by design,” Combs said. “That’s what makes us different from any other channel. We are a television network, but we keep in mind that … television is about to be everywhere. My mission is to bring kids back to television.”

Fusion, a joint news and entertainment-themed venture between ABC News and Univision targeted to millennials and English-language speaking Hispanics, said last week it will debut Oct. 28 with a primetime block that includes news program America With Jorge Ramos, anchored by the Univision newscaster, and Open Source With Leon Krauze, a daily news analysis program to air at 10 p.m.


“We believe our programs — visually compelling, creatively produced and laced with humor and irreverence — will resonate with Latinos and non-Latinos alike,” acting network president Beau Ferrari said. “Fusion’s unique combination of news, satire and original series is a completely new offering for the most exciting and fastest-growing group of young people in the country.”

The networks will join a very crowded cable marketplace that includes cable mainstays ABC Family, Disney Channel, MTV and Adult Swim, all of which already target millennial viewers. ABC Family’s Riley said he’s not surprised at the growing interest in the demo from other networks.

“Millennnials are the largest [viewer] demographic so we’re not surprised to see competition,” Riley said. “We’re thrilled to be a leader in that space and will continue to be so.”


Multiplatform content is the key in luring the coveted millenial demographic, cable programmers say.