Maintaining its aggressive conversion push, TVGN expects to provide a full-screen presence before 90% of its subscriber base by year-end.
The network, which became a 50%-50% partnership when CBS joined Lionsgate last March, is continuing its commitment to original and acquired programming as it moves to remove the listings guide scroll that appears underneath its on-screen programming. TVGN currently counts some 80 million subscribers.
The transformation began in earnest during 2010, when only 30% of its subscriber base had access to the network’s full-screen look. Following a number of recent launches, TVGN, which has a pair of new series and a variety special keying its fall programming slate, is now available as a full-screen service to 85% of its subscribers, according to Friday Abernethy, executive vice president of distribution sales and marketing at TV Guide Network (pictured below).
Among the recent full-screen conversions were high-definition rollouts in Comcast’s Twin Cities and Portland, Ore., markets. The nation’s leading distributor is now proffering TVGN full-screen in its Mile High region and Seattle, with Emerald City customers able to view the channel in the high-definition format.
Elsewhere, Abernethy said a number of Charter systems in Texas and California launched full-screen, standard-definition and HD versions of TVGN, while Time Warner Cable has opened up TVGN HD to its subscribers in North and South Carolina. For its part, Verizon FiOS is now offering TVGN HD across its entire footprint, including the top-ranked New York DMA.
Meanwhile, Cox, which had already been presenting full-screen TVGN throughout its footprint, recently inked a long-term carriage contract for positioning on its digital variety pak. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Abernethy attributed the full-screen gains to the work of our “really great sales people and investments in programming. Distributors like where we’re going as a network.”
With long-time off-network stalwarts like Cheers, Who's The Boss and Designing Women anchoring its daytime lineup, TVGN’s primetime game plan orbits on a diverse movie slate, layered with a original series and specials.
CBS, which paid about $100 million to acquire the 50% of TVGN and of the TVGuide.com that had been owned by JP Morgan Chase’s One Equity Partners, has contributed Survivor episodes, as well as Big Brother After Dark, which previously aired on the company’s premium cable network, Showtime. CBS’s long-running soap The Young and the Restless now doubles with same-day encores weeknights in TVGN’s 7 p.m. hour.
“The CBS programming is definitely helping to drive our ratings,” Abernethy said of the network’s triple-digit advances among viewers and women 25 to 54 in the third quarter. “It’s bringing a lot of new viewers to the network and that‘s part of the plan for them to stick around and sample our originals.”
TVGN on Oct. 22 bowed Mother of All Talent(left), a new reality series following a mother-daughter duo who have built one of the nation’s leading talent agencies for kids from their home in the New York City borough of Staten Island.
Next up is a Nov. 25 special featuring John Rich, one half of the country music’s Big & Rich duo. The 90-minute Rich at Night holiday event, starting at 8 p.m. (ET/PT), will feature some of the genre’s biggest stars, including Wynonna Judd, Kix Brooks and Gretchen Wilson, as well as John Ratzenberger, Wayne Brad and Gilbert Gottfried.
On Dec. 10, TVGN will add the eight-episode docuseries Tequila Sisters (top), centering on the Marins, an affluent, multi-generational Hispanic family living in Southern California who are struggling to hold on to traditional values in the face of the seductive Hollywood lifestyle.
“The John Rich special will be a variety, talk show with multiple guests, airing from his home that will appeal to our female audience,” Abernethy said. "We’re also very excited about the multi-episode Tequila Sisters series.”
These are just the initial steps of a broader programming strategy that will come into focus in the months ahead, as TVGN remains committed to red-carpet coverage from various events and will unveil a new development slate.
Back on the distribution watch, Abernethy said TVGN is gearing up for more full-screen launches before year-end as the service hits the 90% mark. While growth will continue into the future, Abernethy noted that the guide will continue to live on a number of systems around the country.
“Some of the mid-major operators have adopted IP and migrated the guide system” she said. “However, some are still reliant on the scroll on a linear basis.”