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Hubbard Launches Movie Network

After seven years of gestation, Hubbard Broadcasting is finally getting a startup cable network on-air that will focus on the movie world. Reelz Channel (previously dubbed Moviewatch) is slated to launch in September with an enormous subscriber base of 26 million homes. Most cable networks start with fewer than 10 million homes and spend a few years trying to build their base and struggling to lure advertisers.

But Reelz will come out of the gate already at the level considered large enough to attract attention from some advertisers.

Reelz aims to cover movie-related subjects and include actors, directors, behind-the-scenes looks at new and older pictures, and reviews. It will be less overtly celebrity-oriented than E! and less arty than IFC. Stanley E. Hubbard, son of Hubbard Broadcasting founder Stanley H. Hubbard, has been working on the channel for years, hiring former CBS and USA Network executive Rob Perth as president way back in 1999.

Reelz secured deals with
DirecTV and Insight Communications in 2003, but Hubbard says that he didn’t want to actually launch the channel until he secured broad distribution.

"Where a lot of these new networks get into trouble is, they launch before they have critical mass," Hubbard says. "We’ve held on because the idea is right; the industry is ready for it."

Reelz will be slotted on digital tiers and will be almost entirely dependent on advertising, with cable operators paying little or no license fees.