Participant Media, the firm behind an An Inconvenient Truth, has acquired U.S. networks The Documentary Channel and Halogen TV, which it will merge and rebrand as a new cable TV network in 2013.
The company has already completed the purchase of The Documentary Channel for an undisclosed sum, and has entered into an agreement to acquire the distribution assets of Halogen TV from The Inspiration Networks.
The services, once combined and rebranded as a single as-yet-untitled cable network, will reach more than 40 million subscribers, Participant said.
Jeff Skoll, Participant’s chairman and founder, said: “The goal of Participant is to tell stories that serve as catalysts for social change. With our television channel, we can bring those stories into the homes of our viewers every day.
Launching next summer, the new network will create and acquire programming “catering to the tastes and minds of millennials” aged 18-34.
Original content is currently being developed for it by a host of filmmakers and prodcos, including Oscar-winner Davis Guggenheim, Oscar nominee Morgan Spurlock, producer Brian Graden, Cineflix Media (which Participant acquired a share of earlier this year), The Jim Henson Company’s Brian Henson, columnist and blogger Meghan McCain, Mary Harron, journalist and filmmaker Gotham Chopra and writer/director Timothy Scott Bogart.
In a statement, Participant CEO Jim Berk said: “The creation of this network is a natural evolution for Participant. After nearly a decade of telling compelling, entertaining stories on the big screen, a television channel allows us to build upon our existing film, digital and social action resources to create a continuing conversation with an audience that is interested in staying connected and engaged with the world around them.
“I am excited that Evan Shapiro, who joined Participant in May after serving as president of IFC and Sundance Channel, will head the new network.”
Shapiro added: “Our content will be specifically designed for the viewers that the pay-TV eco-system is most at risk of losing. We all know that Millennials are changing how media is consumed. However, they also have the strong desire and inimitable capacity to help change the world.
“Our research shows that there is a white space in the television landscape and we believe that a destination for ‘the next greatest generation’ will be a win for our affiliate partners, advertisers and the creative community.”
In addition to Guggenheim’s Oscar-winner An Inconvenient Truth, Participant Media has been behind a number of acclaimed docs in recent years, including The Cove, Food Inc., Countdown to Zero, Waiting for “Superman” and Page One: Inside The New York Times.
On the narrative side, its box office hits have included Lincoln, The Help, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Charlie Wilson’s War, Good Night and Good Luck, The Kite Runner and Contagion. Participant was founded by Skoll in 2004.