Pop is about to pop on cable as the new name for TVGN, the network owned by CBS and Lionsgate.
Pop will launch during the first quarter and is designed to capitalize on the network’s programming strategy to focus on the fun of being a fan.
“When something stands out from the rest, it pops. It’s what everyone is talking about,” said Brad Schwartz, president, entertainment and media of Pop. “When something is so good that it earns a culture of fandom, that’s pop—and that’s what we want our channel to symbolize, a fresh new media personality that puts us firmly alongside the audience.”
While CBS and Lionsgate own TVGN, formerly the TV Guide Network, they don’t own TV Guide the magazine or its website. Schwartz said it was important for the cable network to control its brand, and that’s what made the rebrand a necessity.
Rebranding cable channels has been one of Schwartz’s specialties, having put new names and looks on eight channels over the course of his career in the U.S. and Canada.
Getting renamed and rebranded also seems to be happening to more and more cable channels these days. Among the recent identity changes have been Bio channel becoming FYI, style becoming Esquire and Discovery Health and Fitness becoming Discovery Life.
Since CBS bought a 50% stake in the channel, it has added shows like Big Brother: After Dark and The Young and the Restless to its lineup. That and other acquired programming has helped boost the channel’s ratings.
In the last few months, the network also completed the long and arduous process of eliminating the scrolling program listings that took up space on the screen stemming from the days when the TV Guide Channel was essentially a program guide, rather than an entertainment channel.
Under Schwartz, the network is also ramping up original non-fiction programming. By the beginning of next year, the network plans to have more than 400 hours of fan-fueled original programming.
The new name will debut with the launch of the reality series Rock This Boat: New Kids on the Block. The show follows the fans of the popular boy band.
By waiting for the first quarter, Pop hopes to avoid the crush of the broadcast networks’ fall launches.
Lots of networks seem to be in the pop-culture business, particularly Comcast’s E!, which uses the tagline “The Pop of Culture." But Schwartz says “slogans come and go,” and that pop culture will only be part of the channel’s identity. “For us, pop is about things that pop,” he said. “Trending is so overused and fleeting. What’s more important than trending is popping.”
TVGN is in 80 million homes and could become an important business for CBS and Lionsgate. “Pop is an exciting new chapter for a cable network that has made great progress and generated significant ratings momentum over the past year,” said CBS CEO Les Moonves and Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer in a statement. “Our new brand not only positions the channel for continued growth but reflects its identity, focus and fan base.”
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