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Pivot Will Turn Toward Millennial Viewers

3/31/2013 8:00 PM Eastern

NEW YORK — Participant Media will “pivot” toward millennials with its new network launching Aug. 1.

The company last Wednesday (March 27) announced Pivot as the new name of its upcoming cable network forged from Participant’s purchase of The Documentary Channel and acquisition of Halogen TV’s distribution assets from The Inspiration Networks. Pivot will launch in 40 million households, network president Evan Shapiro said during the network’s upfront presentation here.

Pivot will target viewers ages 18-34, a segment of more than 85 million Americans. That age group represents 61% of the key adults 18-49 demo advertisers try to reach, and is a key category for cable and satellite operators to retain against fears of cord-cutting.

To adapt to the young demo’s changing technology habits, Pivot’s linear feed and on-demand content will be available to pay TV subscribers on any device, anywhere, through the Pivot app. In a cable first, Pivot will also offer a broadband-only subscription, providing live and on-demand access to its programming without a pay TV package.

“This frees the television network to go with consumers wherever they go,” Shapiro said.

Pivot will have more than 300 hours of original programming in its first year, picking up six series, including scripted, reality and variety projects. They are: the week-nightly talk show TakePart Live; a user-generated variety show hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt called HitRECord on TV!; the hybrid docu-talk series Raising McCain with Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz); contemporary drama Will, about a young William Shakespeare, from Moulin Rouge writer Craig Pearce; a Newark-based docu-soap about two unconventional families called Jersey Strong; and a 10-episode documentary series that will air in English on Pivot and in Spanish on Univision.

Pivot has also struck a partnership with Rolling Stone for a multiplatform programming initiative exploring the millennial mind. The alliance will produce a week of primetime and late-night programming with appearances by the magazine’s writers and editors, and Pivot executives and talent will collaborate with the magazine on three editorial specials to appear in Rolling Stone this fall.

Supplementing Pivot’s original programming will be world premieres of documentary films from Participant’s own film banner, such as Last Call at the Oasis and A Place at the Table, plus others Pivot picked up from the festival circuit, like We Are Legion and Terms and Conditions. The network has also acquired the NBC/DirecTV drama Friday Night Lights, which will air on Friday evenings, as well as the Canadian series Little Mosque on the Prairie and sci-fi series Farscape.

Shapiro preached Pivot’s “double bottom line” of “social impact and commercial sustainability,” with entertainment that inspires societal, industrial and generational change. In fact, he said, Pivot chose to hold its first upfront at the Museum of Arts and Design, a once-neglected site that was revitalized, as a “symbol for the type of change and renewal” the network wants to inspire.

Andrea Morabito is programming editor of Broadcasting & Cable.

September