NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
MTV Networks said Tuesday it will launch a new cable network that carries programs primarily aimed at gay and lesbian viewers.
MTV, owned by Viacom Inc. (VIA.B: Research, Estimates), said the new cable network, called LOGO, will be advertiser-supported and is scheduled to make its basic cable debut in February.
Content on the new network will be comprised of about 25 percent originally developed shows, with the remainder coming from outside sources, according to Reuters.
|Viacom's MTV plans to launch a gay cable network, in a bid to snatch a piece of the action from successful gay-themed shows such as Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."
The plan to launch the gay-themed channel had been on-again, off-again in the past two years at Viacom.
Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Sumner Redstone, Viacom's chairman and CEO, made a rare confession, saying that his company made a mistake earlier by scrapping a plan to launch the first U.S. gay-themed network.
Redstone then ordered Tom Freston, chairman and chief executive of Viacom's MTV Networks, to revive the business plan.
Industry watchers said Viacom's renewed interest came amid a surge in the popularity of gay characters and gay-themed shows on television in the past few years, led by NBC's "Will & Grace" and last summer's runaway hit "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" on Bravo.
Major U.S. networks have been reluctant to create a gay cable network because some executives fear that conservative viewers would be bothered by its programming.
But the high amount of disposable income controlled by gay consumers has long remained an attractive target for advertisers, said Howard Buford, head of Prime Access Inc., a gay and lesbian advertising and marketing agency in New York.
The combined buying power of gay and lesbian consumers averaged nearly $500 billion a year, slightly below the consuming power of blacks but higher than Hispanics, according to Prime Access.
"You could reach gay audiences by going on 'Will & Grace' certainly, but it's a very expensive program, and you are reaching a lot of other consumers as well," Buford told CNN/Money.
MTV's new network will be an "efficient vehicle to reach these audiences with specific selling messages," he added.
MTV executives said they expect to launch the network in about 10 million to 14 million homes on Feb. 17 of next year, and has already received distribution commitments from Time Warner Cable in the New York area and Adelphia Communications Corp. in Los Angeles, according to Reuters.