Word has it that Lionsgate and Tyler Perry are teaming up to create the filmmaker’s own cable TV channel. The venture is to be called TylerTV, according to The NY Times who received the tip from an anonymous industry official briefed on the matter.
The initial plan is to stock the channel with reruns of Mr. Perry’s sitcoms and movies, including the popular Madea series, in which he appears in drag as the title character, a gun-toting grandmother. They also plan to buy third-party content that meshes with Mr. Perry’s Christianity-tinged brand.
Lionsgate and Mr. Perry declined to comment.
Tyler TV, which is still a working title, is intended as a home base for the prolific Mr. Perry — just as Ms. Winfrey, one of Mr. Perry’s most ardent supporters, now operates OWN. But as OWN demonstrates, cable plans that seem promising can be tricky. Ms. Winfrey’s channel, a partnership with Discovery Communications, has been a major ratings disappointment.
Lionsgate and Mr. Perry are exploring three routes for distribution, according to the official briefed on the matter. One involves rebranding all or part of the TV Guide Network, which is available to about 80 million homes. Lionsgate owns 50 percent of that channel; One Equity Partners controls the rest.
Lionsgate and Mr. Perry also could buy a small cable channel that has a complementary audience — the Gospel Broadcasting Network comes to mind — and move to rebrand and expand it. Another option involves Comcast, which extracted approval from government regulators for its recent takeover of NBC Universal by committing to provide more minority-run programming.