TVGN Boosts Original Programming, Trumpets Momentum

In low-key press briefing, CBS-Lionsgate venture touts six-fold increase in originals
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With its program-grid past officially in the rearview mirror, CBS- and Lionsgate-owned net TVGN on Tuesday touted a vast expansion of original content and unique synergies that execs believe are creating momentum.

“We are a start-up, but a start-up in more than 80 million homes,” said Bradley Schwartz (pictured), the network’s president, during a low-key briefing for a handful of reporters in a suite at the Ace Hotel. “You don’t get the chance to create something brand new very often.”

The network announced a 2014-15 slate with more than 400 hours of original programming, a more than sixfold jump from a year ago. Its lineup will include six original series and four primetime specials, plus exclusive cable premieres of event titles in the CBS lineup like the Grammy Awards and first cable windows for select Lionsgate films.

Programs, for now all unscripted, “celebrate entertainment and celebrity in a fun, vibrant tone and often with a comedic perspective that delivers the excitement of being a fan,” Schwartz said. Among the new titles are Rock This Boat: New Kids on the Block, a cruise-ship series due in September from producer Donnie Wahlberg; The Sorrentinos, a summer launch about the family life of Jersey Shore’s Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino; and Unusually Thicke, about Alan Thicke’s quirky clan, which premiered earlier this month.

Also populating multiple slots on the weekly schedule are co-branded celebrity news show Popsugar Now and shows built on successful CBS programming such as Big Brother: After Dark. The latter will soon return for its second summer on TVGN (where it relocated from Showtime), airing a prodigious two to three hours a night, every night, for 13 weeks.

Development titles teased during the presentation include a capella competition show Sing It On and soap opera reality series Soap Town.

Schwartz described the fan-centric sensibility of TVGN as affording the net an opportunity to reach pop culture viewers in a different way from rivals such as E! or Bravo. He also suggested, as has long been speculated, that the potency of that competitive threat could be increased with a broader re-brand of the net. “Does the name stay TVGN forever? Maybe not,” he said.

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