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Logo’ll Be Better Late

1/16/2005 7:00 PM Eastern

What will most likely be MTV Networks’ most important channel launch this year — that of the gay-targeted Logo — has been delayed for four months, to June 30, to allow more time to line up subscribers and punch up the programming, officials said.

The network had been scheduled to bow Feb. 17, but more time is needed to build distribution and add key original and acquired shows, according to Brian Graden, president of Logo and president of entertainment for the MTV Networks Music Group.

GETS IT TO 10M

By June, Logo will be able to roll out to 10 million subscribers, Graden said, rather than just the few million it would have had next month.

MTVN is in the final stages of negotiations for a carriage deal with Comcast Corp., Graden said, and has a pact with RCN Corp. and Adelphia Communications Corp. Time Warner Cable in Manhattan will also carry Logo.

“I just wanted to have it all, because this is the only real first viable gay linear channel that has ever existed, and in that sense, it’s just very important to me and it’s important to Viacom, way beyond the economics of [a] 10 million-home business,” Graden said.

Logo’s new later debut date points to the tough time even major programmers with lots of leverage, like MTVN and parent Viacom Inc., have in lining up and securing carriage for their fledgling cable networks.

Benefiting from the launch postponement, Logo is putting its schedule in place and has signed up three charter advertisers in three major categories — Subaru, Paramount Pictures and Orbitz.

Graden, who wasn’t put in charge of Logo until last October, has green-lit three original series and made a major acquisition: Home Box Office’s 11-Emmy winner Angels in America.

He expects to have two additional original series for the launch.

“Because Logo has such visibility, and because there’s so much pent-up demand in the gay community, I felt strongly about coming out with a complete channel that would have every acquisition I wanted, have a full slate of documentaries, a full slate of series,” Graden said.

MTVN’s sister company at Viacom, CBS News, will be producing ongoing news updates for Logo “on stories you wouldn’t see elsewhere,” according to Graden. He thinks that will help give the network “a stamp of editorial credibility.”

In terms of Logo’s programming schedule, Graden said he wanted the channel to reflect and appeal to all segments of the gay population.

“It’s clear in the beginning we need to be all things to all people,” he said. “So if you’re a 55-year-old gay man living in Columbus, or a 25-year-old lesbian living in Florida, you expect to see yourself reflected in some way in the channel. So, what has been guiding most of our choices has been a real desire to reflect a very diverse tapestry of gay people.”

WHAT’LL BE ON

Logo’s first batch of original series includes: Noah’s Arc, a scripted comedy-drama about African-American men in Los Angeles; My Fabulous Gay Wedding, featuring about-to-be married gay and lesbian couples; and Cruise, from the producers of The Real World, about a gay ocean-liner cruise. Graden has also green-lit a pilot on lesbian surfers.

Logo will also have a diverse documentary series, Momentum. That will include documentaries on gay Republicans, gay rodeo, a gay rugby team in Chicago, gay fraternities and sororities, and one called In the Name of Allah, about being gay in the conservative Muslim world.

“I want to play, as often as possible, against stereotypes with this channel,” Graden said. “We’re trying to hit all ages, all creeds, all backgrounds, gay and lesbians.”

The gay network has also completed a round of theatrical and TV acquisitions, topped by Angels but also including Mulholland Drive, Being John Malkovich, Party Monster and the U.S. premiere of Colin Farrell’s A Home at the End of the World.

“I want Logo to be the ultimate aggregator [of gay content],” said Graden, whose gathered 200 titles for the channel.

Logo won’t debut all of its new series in June, but instead will stagger them, scheduling the programs one at a time as events, the way HBO does with its original series, according to Graden.

September