Does Destiny Have a Future?

New cable channel targets college kids, ethics

College kids want their MTV, but what else? Several college-themed cable nets have tried—and failed—to hook students. Remember Burly Bear Television? It was absorbed by National Lampoon's Television, itself a struggling channel. How about College Television Network? MTV actually bought CTN and relaunched it as MTVU.

Now a new entrant is taking a crack.

The Destiny Channel plans to launch in August with a block of programming distributed on local college cable channels and hopes to debut its own dedicated channel in summer 2005. Destiny wants to air original and acquired programming pegged to ethical issues. College kids are the primary target, but the network hopes adults 18-49 will tune in, too.

The channel's theme—"Thought as sport"—is augmented by "what's happening in the world today," explains co-founder Judith Tolkow, a former Sundance Channel exec.

College kids, Destiny executives contend, are hungry for perspective and information. For example, if corporate corruption is in the news, Destiny might air a movie like Wall Street
and add wraparound programming to flesh out the topic. It plans to buy older theatricals, independent films, and documentaries and give them similar treatment.

Originals will try to put a moral twist on pop culture. On reality show Extreme Destiny Challenge, for example, a group of college kids will travel to Moldova, a former Soviet republic, to donate 30 days to a village. Some are there to do good deeds; others are gunning for a cash prize. The show will be part of Destiny's original block of programming, Extreme Destiny, piped onto the college channels.

The network, funded by private investors, including NHI Studios, a Middle East video service, hopes to raise a $50 million war chest by launch date. But its final destiny is anybody's guess.