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Spike Unveils Rebrand, New Programming

Spike TV is rebranding to focus on action, ditching its cursive logo for an angular one with the slogan “Get More Action.” The new look will begin appearing in May on the male-targeting network.

Spike presented its rebrand and upcoming programming to ad buyers at a breakfast Wednesday in New York that was heavy on both machismo and superlatives. Spike TV head of ad sales David Lawenda touted MTVN Networks’ “largest commitment ever to a scripted drama,” and Spike TV President Doug Herzog promised the network would “spend more money than ever” on a marketing campaign.

“We’re going to cut through the clutter, we’re going to make noise, we’re going to get noticed,” Herzog said, stipulating the rebrand was aimed at making Spike “more Spike-like.”

Spike Creative Director Niels Schuurmans elaborated on the thinking behind the rebrand, going through a “Spike manifesto” that promised, among other things, the network will be “unapologetically male” and will “speak to men the way men speak to men.”

Having seen ratings success of late with reality show Pros Vs. Joes, the network’s total audience was still down 16 percent from last year in February, averaging 1.28 million total viewers in prime.

Going forward programming-wise, the network has renewed its contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship to allow for four new seasons of the reality series The Ultimate Fighter, 10 live fight cards and 26 hour-long episodes of UFC Unleashed, which features old fights.

The network plans two 13-episode, hour-long scripted dramas for 2007, as well as a miniseries and several more unscripted series.

“We’re committed to the idea that, if it’s not a big idea or a high concept, we won’t do it,” said General Manager Kevin Kay.

Dramas include comic-based Blade, debuting June 28, and Amped, about genetically mutated humans. Reality series include Bull Run, which follows auto rallies, and Raising the Roofs, which follows the redneck family of a Southerner-turned-Hollywood actor. New specials include the Spike Guy’s Choice Awards and Scream 2006, an awards show focusing on horror programming, and Metal of Honor, a documentary on the ironworkers who worked during the 9/11 cleanup.

Spike also plans a late-night block for fourth quarter to target a 21- to 35-year-old audience. The block’s lineup is slated to include the videogame-themed animated Samuel L. Jackson series, AfroSamurai, and two shows in development: variety show Boys’ Night Out and a series in which hosts reenact dangerous scenes from online viral videos.

The network also touted an upcoming pro-social initiative called “True Dads,” aimed at promoting active fatherhood, as well as its presence on emerging digital platforms, which executives are calling “Spike 2.”