Participant Media Acquires Documentary Channel, Halogen TV

Will rebrand and relaunch with new content by Cineflix and the Jim Henson Company

Participant Media has acquired cable networks Documentary Channel and Halogen TV and will combine them into a single as-yet unnamed cable network to launch next summer with a distribution of some 40 million households, based on those networks’ existing distribution agreements.

The purchasing company has made its name in recent years with its documentary features, including An Inconvenient Truth, Page One: Inside The New York Times, Waiting for Superman and others. Scripted features on which Participant is credited include Good Night, and Good Luck and this year’s Oscar favorite, Lincoln.

The new network will be aimed at a hard-to-reach demographic: 18-34-year-olds, a group notorious for avoiding television altogether.

“Our content will be specifically designed for the viewers that the pay TV eco-system is most at risk of losing,” said Evan Shapiro, who will head the new network for Participant. (Shapiro left IFC to join the production company earlier this year.) “We all know that millennials are changing how media is consumed. However, they also have the strong desire and inimitable capacity to help change the world.”

New content for the network will be produced by David Guggenheim, director of An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for "Superman," and the Jim Henson Company’s Brian Henson, among others.

The privately held Documentary Channel launched in 2006 as a commercial-free “public-interest network." Three years later, it began making a shift toward becoming a fully ad-supported service. In its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (July 2009), the channel reported revenues in the $1 million to $5 million range.

Halogen TV bowed in 2009 as a companion to the non-profit Christian media property, The Inspiration Network.