NEW YORK — Viacom’s TNN, which bills itself as “the first network for men,” has a new name — Spike — and a batch of reality programming for the 2003-04 season dealing with travel, finance, cars, health and sports entertainment.
The renaming comes less than a week after Fox slapped the moniker Fuel on its cable network devoted to extreme sports. Spike is the third name awarded to the network since it took its first breath in March 1983 as the Nashville Network.
When Viacom bought TNN, it transformed the service into a general-entertainment network and changed the middle word from Nashville to National. Last year, Albie Hecht became president of the network, narrowing its niche to male-oriented programming.
In a conference call, Hecht referred to Spike as a network whose goal is to be “smart, sexy, active, sporty, aggressive, irreverent — and unabashedly male.”
Beginning this summer, Hecht said Spike would start scheduling a series of one-minute tips from Men’s Health magazine throughout the day on fitness, diets and relationships. And three times a day, CBS MarketWatch, a sister company, will produce financial updates live from the floor of the Nasdaq, on the premise that “guys like money, and girls like guys that have money.”
Stuff magazine will produce wraparounds to Spike’s Wednesday-night movies dealing with “the latest in gizmos, gadgets and technology.” Automotive news and features will show up every day through Spike-produced spots under the title “Zero to 60.”
Six series of regular length will kick into Spike’s schedule between August and March, many of them to premiere in a two-hour block Sundays at 11 p.m.:
- “Ride with Funkmaster Flex,” which deals with Flex’s “exclusive world of car culture and celebrity,” featuring guests like Eminem, Ja Rule and Nelly.
- “Top 10 Things Every Guy Should Experience,” a monthly series tracking average Joes as they journey to the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, the Kentucky Derby and other major events.
- “The Eight-Minute Workout Challenge,” which follows three men and three women as they try to burn fat and build muscle by exercising for a concentrated eight minutes a day.
- “Crash Test,” which awards the award of “ultimate party crasher” to the man who survives rejection and humiliation by successfully forcing himself on a social gathering as an uninvited guest.
- “Ultimate Vacation Sweepstakes,” a travel show “where men send in submissions to win the ultimate vacation.”
- “The Scene,” which tags along as a group of entrepreneurs set out to create “the next hot spot.”
TNN officially becomes Spike TV on June 16 after the network splurges on a major marketing campaign in print, radio and billboards. Hecht said Spike will keep its programming costs down by not commissioning scripted series before 2005. And even though it’s geared toward males, “we won’t be bidding against ESPN or TNN for sports rights” for a cable piece of the NFL, the NBA or Nascar.
Sports entertainment is what Spike puts on the schedule, led by World Wrestling Entertainment’s weekly two-hour “Raw” primetime series and 13 fresh episodes of the made-up “Slamball” competitions.