FearNet aims to become stand-alone channel

VOD network is looking to gain linear carriage

NEW YORK -- FearNet, an on-demand service for horror buffs, is looking to establish itself as a widely distributed linear network, with plans to launch as a stand-alone channel Oct. 1.

A joint venture owned by Sony Pictures Television, Lionsgate and Comcast, the FearNet VOD offering is available in about 28 million households. Distribution partners include Comcast, Cox Communications, Insight Communications, Bresnan Communications, Verizon's FiOS TV and AT&T's U-Verse.

Although FearNet's affiliate sales group is seeking to gain linear carriage, it hasn't secured any deals.

Interestingly, a FearNet channel could be seen as a direct competitor to NBC Universal's Chiller. Redundancies abound, given the specific genre both channels serve, the investor overlap (as with FearNet, Lionsgate is a co-owner of Chiller) and the impending NBC Universal-Comcast merger.

FearNet's backers also are looking to launch an HD simulcast of the linear network. The free VOD service launched on Halloween 2006, a few months before NBC Uni introduced Chiller.

FearNet president Diane Robina said the VOD service averages 12 million views a month. Along with the 1.9 million page views drawn each month by FearNet.com, the service is "the No. 1 destination for horror and suspense," she said. "Now we're taking the next step, bringing the best titles in the genre ... and making them available on an ad-supported linear channel."