Sony Pictures Entertainment has tapped veteran cable executive Michael Fleming as president of its Game Show cable network, which is set to launch later this year. Fleming comes to Sony from Playboy, where he was senior vice president of pay TV operations.
First priority for Fleming is to start negotiating carriage agreements with cable operators for the new service.
“We will immediately start talking to operators,” Fleming said. “The channel has had initial talks with operators, but not about a rate structure or rollout schedule.”
Fleming and his boss, Sony Pictures Entertainment TV Group prexy Mel Harris, would not say what they are looking for in terms of price, but made clear that unlike other new cable services there will be no free ride here.
“We will not be free. The concept and library product behind this entity should give operators confidence,” Fleming said. He added that if operators can’t “see their way clear to make us widely available to all basic households, then we can accommodate them by allowing them to tier us at a stronger price.”
Although Sony announced its intentions to launch the channel almost a year ago, Harris said he has been waiting for the cable industry to get through retransmission consent and rate regulation before meeting with operators.
“We have been very patient, we’ve had the concept and programming ready for 18 months,” Harris said.
Initially, the Game Show channel will rely on a rich library ofover 41,000 gameshows from its partner Mark Goodson Prods. and from the Game Show channel’s own collection, which includes shows from Merv Griffin, Barry & Enright and Chuck Barris. United Video, which delivers superstations and sneak preview channels to cable operators, is also a partner in the network with Sony.
But eventually Fleming said he wants the network to start producing its own shows too, and did not rule out that successful shows could make it into the firstrun syndie market.
Prior to joining Playboy in 1986, Fleming worked for Turner Broadcasting, where he helped launch CNN.