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TV Guide Network to change its name to Pop

TV Guide Network is hoping to burst into new programming by changing its name to Pop.

The cable channel, jointly owned by CBS and Lionsgate, announced Thursday that it will relaunch under its new name in early 2015. The channel’s new programming will be geared toward younger, more affluent audiences, said Brad Schwartz, TVGN’s president of entertainment and media.

Pop captures “the vibe the network is going for,” Schwartz said.

The 33-year-old TVGN is available in 80 million homes.  But despite its reach, the network has struggled to create an identity since the industry’s conversion to digital signals a few years ago, which made the rolling programming guide largely irrelevant.

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Even after acquiring rerun rights for popular shows such as HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and Showtime’s “Weeds,” it has fallen short of luring in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic.  TVGN also has not achieved much success in original programming.

But Schwartz is hoping the network will achieve a “whole new personality” beginning next year. It is rolling out more than 400 hours of fan-fueled original programming, in addition to current hits such as “Big Brother After Dark,” which explores the politics that fuel the drama in the hit CBS summer reality show. 

The channel’s new name is intended to suggest something that pops, or stands out from the rest.  

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“It’s something that rises above the noise … a one-of-a-kind maverick,” Schwartz told The Times. “We’re going for a new audience that we are calling ‘the modern grown-up’ … people in their mid-to-late 30s that have pushed off emotional maturity.”

In a joint statement, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves and Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer called TVGN’s pending transformation to Pop “an exciting new chapter for a cable network that has made great progress and generated significant ratings momentum over the past year.

“Our new brand not only positions the channel for continued growth but reflects its identity, focus and fan base,” they said.

When deciding how to rebrand, Schwartz said the network started from scratch.

“As much as the TV Guide brand is historical, we don’t own the magazine, website or app,” he said. “So if you can’t control your brand across all platforms, how do you build? A rebrand is about figuring out your personality and your direction.”

Schwartz said they looked at examples of other channels changing themselves as inspiration.

Last year, for example, Style Network made a dramatic shift and became Esquire Network to primarily attract male audiences.

TVGN decided to build on its existing brand rather than completely transform it.  

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The channel has already worked toward achieving a younger demo by airing the entertainment news show “PopSugar Now” and reruns of the classic teen soap, “Beverly Hills 90210.”

“Everything has been pointing in this direction anyway,” Schwartz said.

The new multiplatform destination will look at entertainment “through the eyes of a fan,” Schwartz said.

“We think there’s a lane to be that in this entertainment space that’s very different than what other people are doing.”

Several original series include “Rock this Boat: New Kids on the Block,” which follows die-hard fans of the band, and “The Story Behind,” a series that goes behind the scenes of TV’s greatest hits.

The full programming line-up will be announced in the near future, Schwartz said.

For more news on the entertainment industry, follow me @saba_h


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