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At the Pivot Point Between TV, Digital

Pivot, Participant Media’s two-year old network-aimed at digital-savvy millennials, is looking to reach that audience of 17-to-34-year-olds with content it hopes will inspire them to make positive change in the world. During the recent New York City Television Week, Pivot general manager Kent Rees spoke with Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead about how that millennial generation will affect the future of television, as well as about Pivot’s plans for linear and digital distribution. An edited transcript of their conversation follows.

MCN:Two years in, how would you define the Pivot brand?

Kent Rees: Pivot is a network dedicated to content that inspires social change. It came out of our parent, Participant Media, and Participant was founded on the idea that if you show people content that inspires them and gives them different ways to take action on the most pressing issues facing the world, that they would want to get involved and do things directly. Pivot is the TV version of that same idea.

MCN:Pivot’s target is young, millennial audiences who aren’t predisposed to watching traditional television. How difficult is it to reach such a fluid audience base?

KR: We concentrate on a specific kind of millennial whom we call the conscious consumers. These are people who are passionate about the world around them, where their food comes from, what they’re children are eating — it’s really a psychographic and a mentality that is very unique and specifically intense within the millennial audience. They want to get involved, and they see Pivot as a credible resource for them as a way to be entertained and inspired at the same time.

MCN:How big a role will millennials play in defining television’s future?

KR: I think millennials are really reaping the benefits of the content explosion that you’ve seen over the last 10 years. They are not necessarily driving the change, but taking full advantage of the technological explosion in the industry and the opportunities that come from that.

MCN:How is Pivot taking advantage of the technological advancements in digital content distribution to reach millennial viewers?

KR: We offer an authenticated app that you can use to watch the network streaming on a 24-hour basis. We also have a lot of great digital content on our sister site, dubbed Takepart. com, where you can dig deeper into a lot of issues that we create.

I think a really great success story for us was [original series] Fortitude, which had a digital companion series where scientists went episode to episode and talked about the impact of what you saw in the episode and how it related back to global warming.

MCN:How do you see the television landscape developing over the next few years, and how does Pivot fit into that landscape?

KR: We’re bullish on the fact that television is an important way to reach people and a great way to provide content. That’s at the heart of what we do: it’s content that inspires social change, and I think TV is the perfect place to do that among all these other platforms.