TV Guide Channel Adds 'Long-Form' Programming


New York— In television parlance, "long-form" programming usually means movies or miniseries. But when TV Guide Channel executives used that term during the network's recent upfront presentation here, they were talking about a quartet of new 15-minute shows and a fresh half-hour entry.

Those programs are much longer than the two-to-three-minute briefs that TV Guide Channel typically runs alongside its localized TV listings. Yet, those snippets have helped it to generate solid ratings.

The rationale behind the expanded format: to retain viewers for longer periods by getting them to do more than simply check the nightly grid.

After the network's April 12 presentation to advertisers, TV Guide Channel senior vice president and general manager Madeleine Forrer said the channel's original content will jump "by about 200 percent" during the new season.

"We want to create an environment to expand video guidance for our viewers [that is] complementary to our listings," Forrer said.

What's On
— a 30-minute entry that is TV Guide Channel's longest show yet — is set to bow this summer on weeknights at 7 p.m. It will close each edition with a "Pick of the Night" from TV Guide
magazine editor Mark Schwed.

The other four new shows —Hollywood Insider, Screening Room,Music News
and TV Guide Best Bets
— will debut April 30.

Screening Room,
hosted by Debbie Matenopoulos and Ken Taylor, will examine current theatrical films, as well as those on pay TV and on pay-per-view. It will also look at what's in the production pipeline.

Hollywood Insider
is positioned as a viewer's "backstage pass" to popular TV programs and major awards shows. And TV Guide Best Bets
will offer recommendations on sports, family and PPV programming.

Music News, which had been two to three minutes in length, will continue to be hosted by Katie Wagner. Personalities for the other shows have yet to be named.

These five program additions will be promoted under a new marketing theme, "Don't Miss a Thing," TV Guide Networks president Pam McKissick told ad-agency buyers at the upfront.

TV Guide Inc. also announced the launch of a Web guide for daily, live Internet events, available in the familiar grid form at The Web site also contains online chats, interactive games and contests.

TV Guide Channel, now in 55.4 million homes, averaged a 0.52 primetime Nielsen household rating during 2000, a 12 percent increase over 1999. TV Guide also noted that it averaged a 0.32 among adults 25 to 54 and a 0.31 among those 18 to 49 in 2000, up from 0.28 in both demographics the prior year.

"We're competitive with ESPN2, Court TV, HGTV [Home & Garden Television], Food [Network], even CNBC," said Forrer. "We beat all of them in primetime, which surprises some people."