Must chi-chi TV: E! plans spinoff Style

September launch targetted for fashion, design chan

E! Entertainment Television is getting Style-ish this fall.

The Disney-owned cable channel is targeting a September launch for its first spinoff web, to be named Style. According to E! prexy and CEO Lee Masters, the channel might be described as a cross between Women’s Wear Daily and Architectural Digest, with a dash of Vogue and a pinch of Furniture Today thrown in for seasoning.

“We are going to cover an array of things relating to style and design — everything from home furnishings and home design to high fashion,” Masters said. “We’ve been doing a lot of fashion- and style-related programming on E!. The ratings performance has been so good that we came to the conclusion that the time was right and the consumer interest was there for this kind of channel.”

Masters has spent the past two weeks pitching the concept to cable operators, but no formal carriage commitments have been inked. Masters wouldn’t offer an estimate on the channel’s startup costs, but said E! was prepared to pay operators to carry the service, as has become the norm for new cable net launches. In major TV markets, cable operators’ per-subscriber asking price can go as high as $10 to $12.

Style will bow with a four-hour block of original programming. E!’s goal is to get the channel cleared as a 24-hour basic cable service, but Masters said the company would be “flexible” in allowing operators the choice of putting it on a digital tier. Tiers generally aren’t as widely distributed as basic cable services, although it’s preferable to being shut out entirely from systems with little or no capacity to add new channels.

Programming and distribution for Style will be supervised by E!’s existing staff, but the cabler will add at least 50 new staffers to pump out original productions for Style.

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