ReelzChannel Audience Doubles Since Acquiring ‘The Kennedys’

6:26 AM PST 03/21/2011 by Georg Szalai
Courtesy of The History Channel

CEO Stan Hubbard predicts that the network’s audience will double again to around 12 million people thanks to the miniseries, which debuts next month.

NEW YORK – Cable network ReelzChannel has nearly doubled its weekly viewers since acquiring controversial miniseries The Kennedys last month, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

In January, the network attracted about three million viewers each week. Now, about 5.5 million people watch it each week, according to the paper, which said that ReelzChannel still loses some $10 million annually. 

Talking to the Journal, ReelzChannel CEO Stan Hubbard attributed the increase to advertising for The Kennedys, which launches on April 3. And he predicted that the channel’s audience will double again, to around 12 million people, after the eight episodes of the series about John F. Kennedy and his family air. The channel paid about $7 million for the show.

The Journal said the network’s high-stakes gamble to spend money on a controversial series to put itself on the map is a strategy that is increasingly common among newer cable channels. ReelzChannel launched in 2006.
"We knew what we were getting into when we bought this," Hubbard said. "We just hope taking a risk will pay off."

Early signs are not only positive in terms of viewership. ReelzChannel has also signed new carriage deals with cable operators, expanding its reach from 54 million to 60 million homes, according to the Journal.

However, advertising sales tied to The Kennedys, which has been criticized for its portrayal of the family, have remained a challenge. 
ReelzChannel has sold only about half of its inventory for the show with about a dozen marketers signing on, the Journal said. The network plans to fill remaining ad slots with promotions for the network and public service announcements.


 

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