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Horror Channel Tries to Scare Up Carriage

Yet another diginet creature is stalking carriage deals.

Backed by famed movie director Joel Silver (Matrix, Lethal Weapon), HorrorNet is eyeing a first-quarter 2006 debut, according to network president Kim Bangash.

HorrorNet is seeking the male 18-to-34 demo that has helped resurrect the horror movie genre in theatres over the past few years with films like The Ring and Final Destination. Bangash also said such movies draw young females, who he hopes will also tune into the network.

Bangash said horror theatricals grossed some $1.4 billion in 2003, and the genre generated another $1.2 billion in DVD sales and rentals. “HorrorNet will be the first network in the U.S. to truly exploit the genres of horror, suspense and action thrillers with world-class library titles and original programming,” Bangash said.

While the network’s programming will be ad-supported and edited under traditional cable standards, he said HorrorNet will also offer an unedited video-on-demand service that will accompany the linear channel.

Bangash said the network will be “flexible” in its agreement with operators, although the network is targeting digital basic carriage. The network will also provide local advertising avails to its affiliates, although she would not reveal specifics. “[Operators] have responded favorably to the depth and quality of the concept and the programming model,” Bangash said.

The network is vying with upstart HDTV services Fangoria TV and Monster HD for carriage commitments and the attention of genre aficionados. The network also would compete against Sci Fi Channel to some degree.

“At this point, I believe their horror programming doesn’t perform as well because they now have an audience that’s expecting [sci fi] category exclusivity,” he said. “But I think the horror market is bigger than the sci fi market, and from a production standpoint, it’s more profitable.”

Bangash would not reveal any specific programming deals, but sources said the network is negotiating with Warner Bros. studios, which distributed a number of Silver’s movies, including the Matrix trilogy. Warner Bros. has a large library of horror/suspense titles such as Coma, The Exorcist, Frankenstein and The Shining.

During daytime, HorrorNet will offer more family-friendly horror-based shows such as The Addams Family, The Munsters, Goosebumps and Buffy The Vampire Slayer — although it has yet to secure rights.

In primetime, the service plans to mostly air contemporary and classic horror films.