Cable’s Here! inks PPV pic pact with In Demand

Channel hopes to draw viewers regularly as a pay net

NEW YORK — Here! TV, the cable programming service aimed at gays and lesbians, has signed a deal with In Demand to provide 30 hours a month of pay-per-view movies for video-on-demand, beginning Aug. 1.

DirecTV and EchoStar already offer dedicated channels to Here! TV for its PPV service, which includes original movies the network touts as world premieres or U.S. premieres, at a retail cost of $3.99.

Paul Colichman, president and CEO of Here! TV, said his goal is to turn Here! from a programming service into a full-fledged digital pay TV network. Oct. 1 is the launch date, but no cable operators or satellite distributors have yet signed up for the 24/7 network.

The hope of Here! TV is that the buy rates of the 30 hours of PPV movie programming will be impressive enough to convince cable ops that the service could draw viewers regularly as a pay net. One movie, “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” stars Cynthia Rothrock, the martial-arts specialist billed as “the first lesbian action hero.”

Unlike Viacom’s proposed gay/lesbian network Logo, Here! TV will be a pay channel and will not accept advertising. Colichman said that strategy will allow Here! TV to schedule edgy, R-rated-type programming uncut, the way HBO and Showtime do.

For the VOD offering, Rebecca Glashow, director of content planning and management for In Demand, said the Here! TV movies would not get a dedicated channel but would be part of a category of titles set apart as movies that appeal to gays and lesbians.

Glashow said the cable operators that own In Demand — Comcast, Cox, Time Warner and Advance/Newhouse — will give careful scrutiny to the buy rates of the Here! TV movies in order to gauge its potential as a network.

Colichman said most entrepreneurs behind new channels are offering a “traditional diet” of the same kind of programming subscribers already get from other networks. Here! TV is offering different programming.

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