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Casino Channel Bets on '04 Launch

New cable channel Casino & Gaming Television will be all about gambling, except you can't bet on it. CGTV is not a TV casino. Rather, the channel will cover gaming, casinos, sports betting, travel and entertainment—all the ingredients of a trip to Las Vegas, minus the 99¢ breakfast.

"It is not just gaming that drives this industry," explains CGTV President and CEO Nickolas Rhodes.

The target is young men 21-34 years old. (The usual demo is 18-34, but, since most casinos require patrons to be 21, the CGTV demo is modified a bit). Co-founder David Hawk hatched the idea of CGTV after watching a lot of the Golf Channel.

"There is a gap in cable [programming] for young males," he said. There are the ESPN networks and Comedy Central, but he noticed "the gaming space was empty."

And Rhodes is no stranger to building channels. He was part of the executive team that launched Speed Channel, Outdoor Life Network and Golf Channel. But the cable industry is a very different place now.

CGTV is purely a digital play. So far, network execs have had cursory talks with cable and satellite operators. Rhodes would like digital basic carriage but would consider being part of a tier, if the deal made sense. The channel is aiming to debut in fourth quarter 2004.

CGTV is looking to raise $75 million and projects break-even in four years and 20 million subscribers. The net isn't looking to have casinos as investors but will seek marketing relationships.

Plans call for about 1,200 hours of programming per year, with shows on sports and fantasy sports, casino games and tournaments and more.