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WAM! Targets Teens With Slate of Originals

Hoping to break through a glut of family-oriented cable programming, WAM! America's Kidz Network! will launch several new series that target "tween" and teen viewers.

Beginning Sept. 1, the Starz Encore Group LLC-owned pay TV service will bow Get Real, a weekly 30-minute series that tackles the entertainment world. Hosted by teens, the show will offer the latest entertainment news and feature behind-the-scenes information on films, music and television, WAM! vice president Midge Pierce said.

Another entertainment-based show, Fred TV, will be produced and edited by 14-year old Fred Medill, who has unusual access to celebrity-driven entertainment events, Pierce said. He'll conduct short interviews with popular music, film and entertainment stars.

Also scheduled for a fall launch is The Buzz, which highlights teen entrepreneurs from around the world.

The new shows will complement several popular returning WAM! series, including Caught In the Middle
— a reality-type series that looks at the lives of freshman students during the school year — and Mark's Web World, one of the first series to teach kids how to use the Internet responsibly.

Also returning for an additional 52 episodes is WAM's tween-targeted sci-fi series The Tribe.
Pierce said shows such as The Tribe
provide teens with original programming that reflects their needs and concerns, and such shows aren't found in abundance on other kid-targeted services.

"We're trying to get the kids at the age where they're beginning to see beyond themselves," she said. "Our programming is about giving kids product that fuels empowerment."

The network's biggest hurdle, however, is getting in front of teens. The network is part of the Starz! Super Pak multiplex package, currently in only 8 million homes. That compares unfavorably to the 70 million to 80 million-subscriber reach of such basic kid-targeted services as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

And further complicating matters, network executives said, is that WAM doesn't have a large marketing budget to push the brand or its programming to its target audience.

Nevertheless, Pierce said the network's programming has generated significant word of mouth among teens, which she hopes will draw additional subscribers.

To maximize primetime viewership, the network will air a new episode from one of its original shows each weekday night. Pierce said the new format encourage would sampling among teens, who regularly surf channels for something to watch.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.