June 2 2013

Four Retro Cable Networks to Launch in 2014

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If you happen to see a lot of old TV shows on your set next year, don’t worry, you didn’t fall through a time vortex.

Zeus Media Partners, a newly formed company made up of television programming vets, is currently trying to put together a rather bold channel package that will see it launch four channels at once. The concept is that each channel will focus on a different decade of television and will include the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

Garth Ancier, CEO of Zeus Media Partners and former head of programming at BBC America, told Variety that this was born out of how many shows are no longer in syndication anywhere on television. “Nowhere on television is Three’s Company,” said Ancier, also noting that classics such as Lost in Space have completely disappeared.

The major hurdle, of course, will be getting cable and satellite providers to sign up for four new channels, but the company has an interesting tactic to get around that issue. While most channels charge providers a fee to carry their content, Zeus will be giving the channels away for free and will make up their revenue strictly from advertising. It is a bold move, but a smart one. The company is also projecting that licensing rights will only run them around $50 million per year for all four networks because, lets face it, the rights holders aren’t realizing any revenue off of these shows as it stands. There is also talk of securing the TV Everywhere rights for the programming meaning you could watch the shows on your tablets and smartphones.

While it may sound silly in the day and age where nearly everything is on DVD or Blu-ray, there are actually some fairly gaping holes out there. For instance, WKRP in Cincinnati has only released its first season on DVD due to difficulties with music licensing rights. The one season that was released had the majority of music changed which displeased fans. If it is aired on television, however, the original music can be left in tact. The same goes for The Wonder Years and several other shows.

While you may be thinking that there is enough programming out there, I would tend to agree, but there is definitely a market for these older shows. Sure there are some definite garbage titles out there (I’m looking at you My Mother the Car), but there are also some brilliant shows that are being forgotten. If they can secure the rights to shows like Kolchak, the Night Stalker, All in the Family, Sanford & Son and so on, they could have a real winning idea on their hands.

Source: Variety .

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