TV Upfront

Meet Pivot, Participant Media's New Cable Channel for Millennials

Targeting Millennials With Socially Aware Shows is Good Business, Exec Says

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Participant Media's new cable network targeting millennials will be named Pivot and use the slogan "It's Your Turn," the company said today at a press briefing for reporters as it gears up try to interest advertisers in commercial time.

The network, which is meant to attract young viewers by focusing on social change, will be available on both traditional cable starting Aug. 1 and through an online subscription service carrying the live feed as well as library content, the company said. It will also plans aggressive TV Everywhere deals from the start.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Programming will include a late-night talk show called "Take Part Live"; a partnership with Rolling Stone magazine for live content and documentaries starting in the fall; acquired shows including "Friday Night Lights" and "Farscape"; and "Will," a scripted period series about a young William Shakespeare that's slated to arrive next year.

Pivot also wants to reinvent the variety show with "Hit Record," a half-hour show hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Participant said. Mr. Gordon-Levitt, who made an appearance at the presentation, said the show is about collaborating with undiscovered artists who can submit their work as part of the Hit Record community.

"We are not interested in getting people to think a certain way, just want to get them to think," said Jim Berk, CEO of Participant, which finances and produces socially relevant films and documentaries, with credits including "An Inconvenient Truth," "The Help" and "Lincoln."

And Pivot will also team up with Univision for a 10-episode docu-series in both English and Spanish, with the English version airing on Pivot and Spanish on Univision.

Almost everything on the network will be connected to some sort of social advocacy. Pivot will also make a major push in teaching the generation about media literacy.

But Pivot will be a general entertainment network, according to network head Evan Shapiro, the former president of IFC and Sundance Channel. It will run reality programming including "Jersey Strong," about unconventional families that inspire, and "Raising McCain," starring Senator John McCain's daughter.

Millennials as a demographic are good for business, said network head Evan Shapiro, the former president of IFC and Sundance Channel. It's also a demographic that pay-TV providers are most at risk of losing.

Pivot, which will be available to about 40 million homes at its start, will be competing with channels like ABC Family and MTV. But its upcoming series are different than, say, ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars," which has developed a loyal --and highly social -- fan base. "Pretty Little Liars" brought in 2.1 million viewers between 12 and 34 years old during its third season finale. ABC Family renewed the series for a fifth season before the fourth even began and, most recently, approved a spinoff series this week.

The new network targeting millennials arrives as pay-TV providers take a hard look at content costs and reevaluate the carriage of small networks in particular.

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