The St. Paul-Minn.-based broadcast group says its long-awaited ad-supported network for movie lovers will launch on Sept. 27 in as many as 29 million satellite and cable homes.
Hubbard Broadcasting has attached a new name and a launch date to its long-simmering network for movie lovers.The Reelz Channel will make its debut on Sept. 27 before nearly a third of all U.S. cable homes, it was announced this morning.
Hubbard has been working on the advertiser-supported network (formerly Moviewatch) for some six years. So what took so long in getting the network to market? “Distribution,” says CEO Stanley E. Hubbard, son of Hubbard patriarch Stanley S. Hubbard. “We wanted to build the distribution prior to launch.”
That they did. According to Hubbard, at launch, the network will reach as many of 29 million TV homes, 24-25 million through satellite operators DirecTV and Echostar and 3-4 million through cable systems.
“It will be one of the biggest launches in history,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Hubbard says, noting that only TNT and MSNBC may have been bigger and that MSNBC was actually a relaunch.
Hubbard had a head start on distribution. When Hubbard merged its United States Satellite Broadcasting with DirecTV, it walked away with an agreement that gave it carriage for any network it might produce.
Hubbard says the company has “master agreementsÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â with several major cable operators that will allow it to market the service to their cable systems. Those operators include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Mediacomm and Insight.
The only major operators with which Hubbard doesn’t yet have deals are Cox and Cablevision, Hubbard says.
Hubbard decided to change the name from Moviewatch because that name suggested to viewers that it was another channel offering movies like HBO or Showtime. “That’s not what we are about,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â says Hubbard. “We are about movies.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
Reelz will offer a mix of reviews, recommendations and lots of talk about movies and movie-making.
The centerpiece of the program day will be a show called Dailies, Hubbard says. “Dailies will be to Reelz what Sportscenter is to ESPN.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
And borrowing from The Weather Channel, the service will offer local “what-to-watchÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â graphics twice an hour—at a quarter past the hour and a quarter before. “The what-to-watch will give specific recommendations of movies that are on your cable system or satellite service,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Hubbard says.
Complementing the network will be an information-rich Web site—www.reelzchannel.com.
By promising the right promotion and channel positioning, cable systems can carry the service for free. It’s an opportunity for cable systems to offer their subscribers something new without having to give up any of their revenue or charge more, Hubbard says.
Hubbard also says that the service should increase viewership of movies, PPV and VOD buys and subscribers’ overall satisfaction with their cable systems. The average system, he says, offers some 4,000 different movies every month over basic and pay networks and PPV and VOD services.
“When you go to the guide, you don’t recognize most of the titles, and, if you don’t recognize them, there is zero chance you are going to watch them,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â he says. “The more people know about the movies, the more they will watch.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
Hubbard is hoping the movie marketing potential and no license fees will be enough to entice cable operators since Reelz is keeping all the advertising inventory, Hubbard says.
Reelz recognizes that movies appeal to all age groups, but will be targeting the prime demo—18-49 years old. Not surprisingly, Hubbard sees the studios as Reelz’s No.1 advertising category.
The Reelz executive team includes Rod Perth, a former executive at USA Network, and John DeGarmo, who is handling distribution.
The network will be headquartered in St. Paul, but have a heavy presence—as many as 140—in Los Angeles, Hubbard says. “If you are going to have a network about movies, you have to do it in LA.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â