Participant turns on Pivot

Participant Media's TV network is to be called Pivot, will be available as both a regular pay-TV channel and a broadband-only streaming service, and features launch programming fronted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (pictured) and Meghan McCain.
March 27, 2013

Participant Media’s TV network is to be called Pivot, will be available as both a regular pay-TV channel and a broadband-only streaming service, and features launch programming fronted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (pictured) and Meghan McCain.

Participant – a company to date known for feature films such as The Cove, Lincoln and An Inconvenient Truth – held its first upfront presentation for the TV channel today (March 27) at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design, unveiling the launch titles set to air on the network, which goes live on August 1.

Among the initial programming is HitRECord on TV! (7 x 30-minutes), an ‘open source variety show’ fronted by actor Gordon-Levitt (Looper, The Dark Knight Rises); Raising McCain (10 x 30-minutes), a docu-talk series starring and exec produced by Meghan McCain, daughter of U.S. politician John McCain; and Jersey Strong (10 x 30-minutes), a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ style reality show featuring gang members, from Peabody Award-winners Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin.

Also on the slate is TakePart Live, a topical talk show that will air five nights a week; Will (10 x 60-minutes), a period drama about William Shakespeare; and acquired NBC/DirecTV sports drama Friday Night Lights.

The network also announced that it had entered into a joint venture with Univision News and Latin World Entertainment to coproduce 10 hour-long documentaries that will air on Pivot in English and Univision in Spanish; and that it will host TV premieres of feature docs A Place at the Table, Terms and Conditions, We Are Legion, State 194, Last Call at the Oasis and 99% – The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film.

At the upfront event, Participant execs detailed the channel’s unconventional distribution strategy.

Pivot will be available via traditional pay-TV packages, offered by multichannel video programming distributors across the country.¬†For these subscribers, Pivot will offer “perhaps the most comprehensive set of TV Everywhere rights in the industry,” execs said, allowing subscribers to stream the network, both live and on demand, to any device anywhere.

In addition, the Millennial-targeting channel will also offer a broadband-only subscription service for “cord cutters and cord nevers,” allowing computer users to pay for a linear stream of the network and access to programming on demand.

Talking to realscreen from New York, Pivot president Evan Shapiro said the channel would look to change not only “the way the world is headed, but also the industry itself.”

“It’s a really unusual distribution method – you’ll be able to get the network through traditional pay-TV, but the major breaking of ground comes if you’re not a pay-TV subscriber but you are a broadband subscriber,” he explained.

Shapiro said broadband-only pricing will “depend a bit on your carrier” but is likely to be “basically less than the price of a cup of coffee” per month. He added that “no network that I know of has offered” something like this.

With the nightly talk show TakePart Live, Shapiro explained: “It’s going to be about the issues that our audience of Millennials thinks are important.

“We’re going to go online every day and say ‘what do you want to talk about tonight,’ and that night, you’ll have an opportunity to hear and actually participate in the conversation with our on-air talent.”

He added that talent for the show will be announced at a later date, but would comprise some people “who are really popular online.” He also said the show would be “not live to tape, but live live.”

Participant first detailed plans for its TV channel last December, when it acquired U.S. nets Documentary Channel and Halogen TV.

Check out the new network’s logo below:

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.