Participant Media Creates TV Network for Millennials Into Social Change
A new TV network targeting millennials is coming next summer.
Participant Media, which finances and produces socially relevant films and documentaries, said Monday that is has acquired The Documentary Channel and entered into an agreement to buy the distribution assets of Halogen TV from The Inspiration Networks. Participant will combine and rebrand the services as a new cable channel, which will be available to about 40 million subscribers. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
The network, whose name will be announced in March, will be competing with channels like ABC Family and MTV and comes as pay-TV providers take a hard look at content costs and reevaluate the carriage of small networks.
Evan Shapiro, who was president of IFC and Sundance Channel before joining Participant in May, will head the new network. Participant focuses on creating entertainment that inspires change, an approach that Mr. Shapiro said resonates with the millennial generation.
Aside from being socially conscious, however, the 18-to-34-year-old demographic is also transforming how content is consumed. "Despite what people say, research shows this audience is watching more TV than ever, they are just doing it on different platforms," Participant CEO Jim Berk said in an interview.
Participant intends to build a service in step with the way millennials consumer video. "Our content will be specifically designed for the viewers that the pay TV eco-system is most at risk of losing," Mr. Shapiro said. "We all know that Millennials are changing how media is consumed. However, they also have the strong desire and inimitable capacity to help change the world. Our research shows that there is a whitespace in the television landscape and we believe that a destination for 'the next greatest generation' will be a win for our affiliate partners, advertisers and the creative community."
Participant plans to use its over 1,000 social advocacy events to help viewers stay connected.
The company is teaming up with a bevy of producers, directors and writers for content, including Brian Graden, producer and former president of entertainment at MTV Networks; The Jim Henson Company's Brian Henson; director Davis Guggenheim; "Super Size Me" director Morgan Spurlock; journalist and docu-filmmaker Gotham Chopra; and Cineflix Media, an international TV producer and distributor in which Participant controls an equity interest. Participant's credits include movies like "An Inconvenient Truth," "The Help" and "Lincoln."