Sundance Channel announces expansion plans

More hours, new slate on tap at cabler

The Sundance Channel announced at its Tuesday ayem pre-upfront press conference that it would be doubling its hours in the coming year, along with renewing popular skein “Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys” for a second season.

The new slate is all nonfiction, though execs Evan Shapiro and Sarah Barnett eschewed the phrase “reality TV” during the breakfast at the Gansevoort Hotel in Gotham.

“This isn’t cynical, fake reality TV,” network g.m. Barnett told the press corps. Barnett placed the new hour count “between 75 and 80” and previewed five new shows that would roll out this year starting at the end of March.

“We think niche is the new mass,” IFC and Sundance Channel topper Shapiro said. “Successful programmers create high-quality engagement with their audience.”

Sundance appears to be treading a path blazed by high-end niche nets like Bravo, with an offbeat cooking show (“Ludo Bites America”) and two fashion shows (the previously announced “All on the Line” and unconventional clothesmaking skein “Garo Unleashed”). Other shows were more unique to the network, like inventor-centric program “Quirky” and “Shoebox Sessions,” in which host David Nadelberg raids celebrity attics for everything from mash notes to prom pics.

All shows are hourlongs except “Shoebox,” whose run will consist of 10 half-hours. “Garo,” “Quirky” and “Ludo” have been greenlit for six-seg seasons; “All on the Line” will have eight episodes, and trend show “Love/Lust,” which was not previewed at the event, will have 14.

The sixth show previewed at the presentation was “Diva of Distressed” (working title), a show from the Sundance development slate featuring billionaire and former Wall Streeter Lynn Tilton, who rebuilds failing businesses. Also announced: “Neumont” (also working), a program in development about tech-centric Neumont U. and its nerdy student body.

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