BREAKING: Light TV, a new, 24-hour faith and family entertainment network designed to tap into MGM’s library of titles, is being launched next month by Roma Downey, Mark Burnett and MGM in partnership with a number of Fox stations and affiliates. Plans for the channel were reported about a year ago when the studio agreed to buy the 45% stake it didn’t own in its United Artists Media Group joint venture from Downey, Burnett and Hearst, and then named Burnett as president of its Television and Digital Group. The venture, which will also develop original programming, now has a name and a plan.
A seven-day-a-week, 24-hour programming schedule would normally be extremely expensive to program, but the idea is all in the repackaging and marketing of existing fare and Burnett and Downey have already proven themselves as great marketers.
Light TV, they say, will feature “wholesome family and faith-based entertainment programming” and will be the vehicle for the studio to be able to further monetize its film and TV library. The idea is not unlike TV Land in its early days or MeTV where the studio and Lightworkers’ Media Downey along with her husband Burnett who is President of MGM Television and Digital are lining up a bevy of titles to feed the machine. The programming will include Fox’s Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?, acquisition titles Highway to Heaven and Heartland and a bevy of films from the studio’s library: Rocky, Hoosiers, Red River, Little Man Tate, The Nutcracker, Lilies of the Field, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Black Stallion, All Dogs Go To Heaven, Pink Panther, Fame and Mr. Mom to name some of the titles.
In doing this, MGM is tapping into the cachet of Downey and Burnett whose names have become synonymous with faith-based films and TV programs and then repackaging old titles with a new branding technique.
The seven-day per week broadcast network already has signed up affiliates in top markets, where it will air on the subchannels of Fox stations, including New York (WNYW), Los Angeles (KTTV). Chicago (WFLD), Philadelphia (WTXF), Dallas (KDFW) – Houston (KRIV), San Francisco (KTVU), D.C. (WTTG), Atlanta (WAGA), Orlando (WOFL), Phoenix (KSAZ), Minneapolis (KMSP) and Charlotte (WJZY).
“This is the last unclaimed vertical. As we have already seen from the success of The Bible series and our 20 million social followers this audience is looking for inspiring and uplifting programming that they can watch in a trusted and safe environment on any platform,” said Downey in making the announcement this morning.
MGM currently offers several branded channels in the U.S., including MGM HD (which is currently carried in the U.S. by many of the leading cable satellite and telephone company distribs) and THIS TV, launched in 2008 as one of the original multicast networks features MGM films, local news and sporting events, as well a block of programming dedicated to children’s viewing. THIS TV was launched in partnership with Tribune Broadcasting and has about 130 affiliates aboard making it available in more than 85% of the U.S. market. It also is partnered in Epix and has Comet (in partnership with Sinclair Television group), which is a 24 hour/7 day-per-week science fiction multi-channel network. Comet is said to reach about 65 million homes or 70% of the U.S. Another branded channel from MGM is IMPACT, a VOD service dedicated to action programming which is currently available on numerous platforms, including Comcast’s Xfinity and Sony Vue.