Varsity Television to tap teen market


A new cable network for teens wants to fill the programming gap between
Nickelodeon and MTV: Music Television for 13- through 18-year-olds.

Varsity Television, which prefers to be called VTV, wants to be "akin to teen
broadcast network, rather than a narrowcast all-music, all-weather, all-sports
network," explained president Joe Shults.

To get there, VTV will use cheaper foreign acquisitions and free
viewer-produced content.

So far, VTV is only available on Comcast Corp.'s Headend in the Sky satellite service, and Shults
estimated that about 1 million to 2 million subscribers can currently see it.

On Monday, VTV signed a letter of intent for distribution with the National
Cable Television Cooperative, which represents cable systems with about 14
million subscribers.

VTV expects to roll out on NCTC systems in coming months.

While Radio One Inc. and Comcast are investing about $130 million to get their new
black network running, Shults said VTV requires considerably less start-up money,
but he wouldn't elaborate.

New cable networks typically need around $100 million in start-up funds.

The network doesn't have any advertisers yet, although Shults said his team
is courting youthful advertisers in the fast-food, soft-drink and video-gaming