TVGN Is Gunning for E! With New Program Slate

CBS/Lionsgate joint venture boasts unscripted shows, early windows on movies

At a breakfast at the Ace Hotel in New York this morning, TVGN (which isn't using the full name TV Guide Network anymore) announced a slate of unscripted shows, along with the news that it had gone "full screen"—as in, no scrolling network listings—in its 83 million homes.

The network is following the traditional cable model of acquired content and movies with a slate of originals on top of them, with one crucial difference: CBS and Lionsgate are providing the acquired shows and films in question. TVGN has cable premiere windows on many Lionsgate films throughout the year, including Arbitrage, The Lincoln Lawyer and Man on Wire, as well as early windows on others. 

CBS is also giving day-after and week-after windows to the cable network for a number of its shows, notably soaps The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless.

The network's originals include more of Unusually Thicke, a show about Alan Thicke and his family, which network president Brad Schwartz described, refreshingly, as "softly scripted." ("Following around the Thickes in their underwear all day wouldn't really make for great television," Schwartz said.) The series has a 14-episode commitment. Also on the docket for this season: The Sorrentinos, about Jersey Shore alum Mike Sorrentino (who referred to his abs, and thus himself, as "The Situation"), and several special events, notably a partnership with CBS newsmagazine Entertainment Tonight on the red carpets of both the Oscars and the Grammys.

Schwartz placed his brand squarely between advertisers and NBCUniversal's E! in his presentation, emphasizing that TVGN would start its life in the upfront cycle as a bargain. "We can do really great things at lower price points," he said. "You want to do something like that at E!, you have to spend a lot. We're hungry, we're smaller, we have a much lower price of entry."

Popsugar, the network's main pop culture show, will try to take on similar programs by going easier on the rich and famous. "It's not TMZ," Schwartz said. "It's not snarky, it's not Chelsea, it's not Talk Soup. It's a safe environment, and it's a safe place where we can do integrations at a moment's notice."

Publish date: April 29, 2014 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT