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Old 08-10-2011, 01:28 PM   #1
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TV Tyler Perry May Get His Own Cable Channel: Tyler TV

Lionsgate and Tyler Perry Said to Be in Cable Venture
By Brooks Barnes
Published: August 9, 2011

Lionsgate is betting that Tyler Perry has the star power to carry an entire cable channel, Oprah Winfrey style.

That movie studio and Mr. Perry — whose flourishing African-American fan base consistently turns his plays, television shows and films into hits — are forming a new venture called Tyler TV, according to an industry official briefed on the matter who requested anonymity because the plans are private.

The partners will initially stock the channel with reruns of Mr. Perry’s sitcoms and movies, including the popular Madea series, in which he appears in drag as the title character, a gun-toting grandmother.

They also plan to buy third-party content that meshes with Mr. Perry’s Christianity-tinged brand.

Lionsgate and Mr. Perry declined to comment.

Tyler TV, which is still a working title, is intended as a home base for the prolific Mr. Perry — just as Ms. Winfrey, one of Mr. Perry’s most ardent supporters, now operates OWN.

But as OWN demonstrates, cable plans that seem promising can be tricky. Ms. Winfrey’s channel, a partnership with Discovery Communications, has been a major ratings disappointment.

The days when media companies could easily introduce channels have long passed because of a clogged cable dial and competition from the Web, among other factors.

If a television queen like Ms. Winfrey has a difficult time making a go of it, even with the backing of a cable colossus like Discovery, might it seem presumptuous of Lionsgate and Mr. Perry to expect success?

Maybe not. While Ms. Winfrey is reaching for a broad audience, Mr. Perry has always focused on a narrow and loyal niche: African-American women. His fans have a history of following him across the entertainment spectrum. Mr. Perry’s stage performances sell out in minutes. His two TBS comedies, “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns,” have generated solid ratings, and a third series, “For Better or Worse,” will begin in the fall.

And Mr. Perry’s movies, which range from the campy Diary of a Mad Black Woman to the highbrow For Colored Girls, have sold more than $522 million in tickets.

(One hurdle: Since Lionsgate already licenses his films to places like Epix, a fledgling competitor to HBO, they would most likely come to Tyler TV on a delayed basis.)

Lionsgate and Mr. Perry are exploring three routes for distribution, according to the official briefed on the matter. One involves rebranding all or part of the TV Guide Network, which is available to about 80 million homes. Lionsgate owns 50 percent of that channel; One Equity Partners controls the rest.

Lionsgate and Mr. Perry also could buy a small cable channel that has a complementary audience — the Gospel Broadcasting Network comes to mind — and move to rebrand and expand it.

Another option involves Comcast, which extracted approval from government regulators for its recent takeover of NBC Universal by committing to provide more minority-run programming.

The relationship between Lionsgate and Mr. Perry is deepening as the independent studio shows signs of emerging from an arduous period that has included box-office failures and a failed hostile takeover attempt by Carl C. Icahn.

The company has several prominent films on the horizon, including Conan the Barbarian and The Hunger Games, both intended to be franchises.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Lionsgate Entertainment reported a profit for the quarter ended June 30. Net income was $12.2 million, or 9 cents a share, compared with a loss of $64.1 million, or 54 cents a share, a year ago.

Its stock rose 4.1 percent on Tuesday to close at $6.62 a share.
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Old 08-10-2011, 01:54 PM   #2
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Barf. This could end up being a good thing if all the Tyler Perry shows are removed from TBS and locals.
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Old 08-10-2011, 01:59 PM   #3
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Yet another channel for African American viewers?! Isn't there another one launching later this year, plus BET?
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