Jeff Skoll's Participant Media, which has backed a number of consciousness-raising narrative and documentary features — "Lincoln," "The Help" and "An Inconvenient Truth," for example — is extending its reach to TV and launching a cable channel in summer of 2013. The target demographic is 18-to-34-year-olds.
Participant has already purchased the Documentary Channel, which is primarily available on DirectTV and the Dish Network, and has an agreement solidified to acquire distribution assets for Halogen TV. These complementary channels will act as a base for the cable launch — with very little overlap, the two combined could ultimately reach about 40 million viewers, if the merge is overseen correctly.
The Doc Channel currently has a potential reach of 25 million homes, with Halogen situated for a nitsch reach of 4 million homes, and 7 million VOD platforms.
As evidenced by such civic-minded films as "The Help" and "Lincoln" and environmental agit-prop "An Inconvenient Truth," Participant's cable channel aims to provide "entertainment to inspire social change," said former IFC and Sundance Channel president Evan Shapiro, who will lead the new network.
Why the specific target of the Millennial Generation? "We feel this audience wants to help change the world… This is also the audience [cable operators] are most at risk of losing," stated Shapiro.
The new name for the channel will be announced in March. More details at the NYT.