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Gay-Themed Here! PPV Eyes Cable

Having already established a foothold with direct-broadcast satellite, movie producer Here! Films will launch a cable version of its gay-and-lesbian-themed pay-per-view network, beginning in March.

The production company will offer its Here! PPV channel, currently carried by satellite provider DirecTV Inc, to cable operators beginning March 1, Here! president Paul Colichman said.

In addition, the company plans to launch subscription video on demand and free VOD services by second quarter 2004 in an effort to bring gay- and lesbian-aimed movies to all cable platforms.

No MSO Deals

Colichman said the company is in discussions with numerous operators for distribution deals, but would not say whether any have been completed. He added that the interest garnered for its DirecTV PPV network spurred the move to the cable arena.

The service, which launched Aug. 29 and sells movies at a suggested retail price of $3.99, has generated buy-rates "three times higher" than the company's business plan.

"It's performing significantly higher than we expected," he said.

Given the affluence and the tech-savvy nature of the gay and lesbian community, Colichman said the PPV, VOD and SVOD services are natural plays for cable systems.

"The community is one that adopts technology very quickly and buys what they want: They're not price-sensitive, and they only want the best quality," he said.

The film studio, which co-produced the critically acclaimed Gods and Monsters, rolls out at least one original movie a month that is either released theatrically or sold directly to home video outlets.

Much like its DirecTV service, Colichman also said the company will heavily market the networks to gay and lesbian communities — although with cable, Here! would be able to provide more targeted community promotions.

"We will launch with heavy local promotion with every system that signs up," he said.

"The [gay and lesbian] community has an incredibly high awareness of our channel, so we're marketing directly to the community."

Not Explicit

The networks provide movies that appeal to a broad age demographic, with most content garnering a PG-13 or lesser rating. Colichman added that the networks would not feature any overly erotic or explicit programming.

The programming also won't mirror some of the more stereotypical images currently seen on broadcast and cable via the growing number of gay-oriented reality shows and characters portrayed on sitcoms.

"We're buying and making product for the community that we know is out there and we're doing it for all age groups of people," Colichman said.

R. Thomas Umstead
R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.