Monday, 13 September 2010

Nine’s GEM balances gender ledger

GEM_logo_0001 The Nine Network has announced its new digital channel – GEM – targetting females aged 35+.

The new channel, which will broadcast in high-definition and replace the existing high-definition simulcast of the main Nine channel, is expected to debut on Friday 24 September – just a day before the launch of Seven’s new male-focused channel, 7mate. The channel will have its official launch on Sunday 26 September.

Programming details for GEM, an acronym for “General Entertainment and Movies”, are fairly scant at present (Updated: More details in Nine press release, below) but it is reported to include programs like Secret Millionaire, The Big C, Weeds and Wife Swap as well as re-purposed news and current affairs content and a commitment to maintaining some of Nine’s sports content in high-definition – how the latter ties in with the proposed target demographic is unclear though it is a move that will please sports fans.

There is also no word if GEM will be carried by regional affiliates such as WIN or the Nine-owned channels NBN in Northern NSW and NTD8 in Darwin.

The launches of GEM and 7mate, while they provide more channel choices, will effectively mean two fewer high-definition simulcasts of network television – leaving SBS as the only network providing a high-definition simulcast of its main channel.

While ABC and Network Ten moved away from high-definition simulcasts, they did so to launch well-defined and well-branded unique channels, ABC News 24 and One HD, while GEM and 7mate from the outset (with the limited information that either channel has released to the public) appear to be a thinly-spread array of re-run material, a lot of which pre-dates high-definition production, with a handful of first-run programs that vaguely resemble a demographic-focused approach – a line-up that could just as well have been used to boost the content offerings of their existing channels 7TWO and GO instead of short-changing viewers who will now no longer have the option to see Australia’s two most popular networks in high-definition. The networks will argue that this is the only means in which they can offer a third channel as they are limited in how they can deliver multiple channels pending the complete shutdown of analogue transmission in 2013.

A formal announcement of GEM is expected from Nine later today.

UPDATE @ 16:25 AEST 13.9.2010: Media Release from Nine:

NINE ANNOUNCES A NEW GEM

Following on from the outstanding success of the GO! multi-channel, the Nine Network today announced plans for a third channel, GEM, which will launch on Sunday, September 26 aimed at the sophisticated, discerning viewer.

GEM will be a mix of new content, classic comedies, cherished drama series, all-time favourite movies, and all of Nine’s sport coverage in high definition.

GEM is designed to complement Nine’s premium channel, and the network’s number one multi-channel, GO!, attracting females 35+ and grocery buyers.

Leading the GEM lineup is the acclaimed new US drama series The Big C, starring Laura Linney as a woman making the most of her life after being diagnosed with cancer. Also starring Oliver Platt and Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe, The Big C’s recent premiere achieved record ratings for the US Showtime network.

The cult favourite Weeds will also be seen on GEM in a new season. Other first-run imports include Southland, Miami Medical, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and the lifestyle programs Wife Swap, Secret Millionaire USA, The Chopping Block USA and How Clean Is Your House?

Also on GEM will be a new season of Random Acts of Kindness (previously seen on Nine) featuring Shelley Craft, Scott Cam, Dr Andrew Rochford and Simmone Jade Mackinnon, treating everyday Australians to well-deserved rewards.

Rounding out the schedule will be the classic comedy Friends, stripped to air every week night, Aussie gold dramas McLeod’s Daughters, Sea Patrol and The Alice, and the hit US crime shows CSI, CSI Miami, CSI New York, The Closer and Cold Case, along with great movies such as Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator, 21 Grams and Being Julia.

Nine CEO David Gyngell said GEM would build on the network’s tearaway success with the GO! channel, which by a big margin is Australia’s most popular multi-channel across the key demographics and total people.

“GEM is what its title suggests – a general entertainment and movie channel, carefully crafted and targeted like GO! before it, to appeal to a wide audience cross-section and complement Nine’s existing successful brands,” Mr Gyngell said.

GEM will also include news and current affairs programs that will be different but complementary to those on the main channel. “We have a very significant investment in news and current affairs and some of that content will be repackaged to the style of GEM,” Mr Gyngell said.

High definition sport will be seen on GEM until the digital switchover in December 2013.

To receive GEM from September 26, viewers need to tune in to channel 90 on an HD-capable digital TV, PVR or set top box. If you have an analogue television you will need to connect your old TV to an HD-capable digital set top box, PVR, or digital recorder and tune in to channel 90.

Source: Media Spy

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