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All systems go for Logo

All systems go for Logo


MTV Networks plans to launch its gay and lesbian channel in June. Is basic cable ready?

As a closeted kid growing up in the Midwest, MTV Networks' Brian Graden "could never in a million years have dreamed" that there would one day be a national channel targeted exclusively at GLBT viewers, he says. Not only is this happening with the June 30 launch of Logo, an ad-supported digital channel debuting in about 10 million homes nationwide, but Graden is also the president of that channel, which will offer gay- and lesbian-themed films from a library of hundreds of titles as well as original dramatic and reality programming. "We decided that--since it's the only linear gay channel that will exist--we should go very broad, so our target is 18 to 54 or basically anybody who wants to watch," says Graden, who is also president of the MTV Networks Music Entertainment Group. "Not every show will hit those demographics, but we've actually got content in every area so that anybody who's gay will hopefully see themselves reflected somewhere on the channel." MTV Networks has a successful record with niche channels, including BET, Comedy Central, TV Land, and VH1. If Graden is concerned that the current politically charged red state-blue state climate will have an adverse effect on Logo's viability, he's not letting on. TV has already made gays visible with Will & Grace, Queer as Folk, and The Real World, and Graden believes politics won't affect viewer tastes. "There's a political dialogue that goes on, but there's also the cultural dialogue, and gay images have already been on television and in film for 15 to 20 years now," he says. Those images will be front and center on July 24, when the network presents the first-ever telecast of the GLAAD Media Awards, which were held in Los Angeles on April 30. Building up to that telecast, Logo will present a weeklong tribute featuring past award recipients as well as an original documentary. Will such programming attract advertisers? Cable industry experts believe that Logo will have the best chance initially with companies that already buy print ads in gay-themed magazines. The channel did not have much of a presence at this spring's "up-fronts," when networks attempt to presell their upcoming slate of shows to potential advertisers. So Logo remains something of an unknown entity. "Most large corporations have a policy of wait-and-see when it comes to new media, any new TV show," says Howard Buford, CEO of Prime Access, a New York City-based company specializing in ethnic and gay advertising. "That creates a strong opportunity for those willing to commit from the very beginning." Buford says he has four "major clients" exploring advertising on Logo, which he believes will succeed by initially focusing on key categories where consumption by gays and lesbians is high: travel, financial services, automotive, and luxury items. Logo is not expected to go after the major brands in the beginning, but if companies like what they see once Logo launches, they will be able to tap into a demographic that is underserved and generally likes to spend money "The important thing to remember is that gays and lesbians are part of the general market," Buford said. "The key to the long-term viability of Logo is for media buys in the general market to incorporate Logo as part of their general market reach."

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