On Cable, There's No Such Thing as a Niche Too Small

Gypsies, Jousters and Justice-Seekers Find Homes in an Ever-Expanding Channel Universe

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My Big      Fat Gypsy Wedding
"My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding"

Once the domain of three massive broadcast networks airing shows with the broadest possible appeal, TV now consists of a sprawl of channel lineups covering increasingly narrower subjects. As programmers try to find the latest angle on mini-major genres such as weddings, hoarding or living in Louisiana, nothing's too niche to try.

"My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding"
AMC Networks pulled the plug on a channel called Wedding Central last summer, but nuptials programming remains a cable staple. You need to stand out with a very sharp hook, like the one behind this TLC series on "the endless pursuit of perfection ... Irish Traveler style."

"Texas Multi Mamas"
WE TV's slogan promises "Life as WE Know It," which in the Lone Star State means mothers of twins, triplets and quadruplets.

"Hillbilly Handfishin'"
The hosts of this Animal Planet series teach people how to catch catfish with their hands and feet. And the History Channel has "Mudcats." This may be a bigger specialty than we thought.

"Tattoo School"
Coming soon to TLC, this series follows students taking two weeks to master "what most tattoo artists spend years learning." It's one of a fistful of shows about tattoos -- and the 9,998th reality show shot in Louisiana.

"Full Metal Jousting"
In which the History Channel revives and repackages medieval jousting as an extreme sport, injecting it with modern steel suits and "big money" prizes.

"Confessions: Animal Hoarding"
Animal Planet visits people with a compulsion to accumulate and control critters. From the producers of "Intervention."

"Cajun Justice"
Potentially one of the most widely appealing new niche series, this show from A&E follows the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office and promises reports of a shape-shifting swamp creature called the Rougarou. Louisiana reality series No. 9,999.

"Rat Bastards"
This coming Spike TV series will follow hunters of nutria -- large, ecologically ruinous rodents. Set in Louisiana, natch.

"Doomsday Preppers"
National Geographic tracks Americans getting ready to handle the end of the world and brings along an expert to tell them whether their survival tactics would work in the face of Armageddon, the Rapture or a mile-wide asteroid.

"American Stuffers"
Animal Planet's show about a taxidermist in Romance, Ark., to whom pet owners go so that they don't have to say goodbye.

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