After three years of trying to make TNN hipper, younger and much less country, MTV Networks is renaming the 86 million-subscriber service Spike TV and aiming it directly at men.
While reaction to the new moniker has been mixed, observers agree that a change was due and are waiting to see how network president Albie Hecht will brand Spike.
As its sales team began rounds with ad agencies last Monday, a day before the name was revealed, svp of ad sales David Lawenda said the network is stressing its lifestyle positioning. He said while men watch sports, comedy and news, they devote only 13 percent of their time or less to each genre. "They want to see all of it in the same place," said Lawenda.
After acquiring The Nashville Network in 2000, MTV tried to give the channel a pop-culture slant as The National Network. Then it was called simply The New TNN. Finally, in December, Hecht was brought in. He laid out an agenda centered on creating a TV destination for the total man—"Lifetime for men," as he put it, complete with all the stuff guys like: sports, movies, women, fitness, finance and cars.
The name Spike TV was chosen after months of deliberation over whether to use a guy's name or an acronym. "It is a guy's name. It's unapologetically male. It's active, contemporary, aggressive and irreverent," said Hecht. "These are the qualities we hope will define the first network for men."
A new logo will be unveiled May 6, and the name will officially change June 16.
In addition to content such as James Bond films, Star Trek, World Wrestling Entertainment, Slamball and a upcoming animation block (including Pamela Anderson's Striperella), Spike TV is partnering with CBS Marketwatch and Stuff and Men's Health magazines on interstitial pieces.
"The network has a lot going for it, but it's not going to be that easy," said Brad Adgate, svp and director of research for Horizon Media, noting that networks including ABC Family and TBS have not had much success in repositioning to target men.