|Launched||September 7, 2001|
|Owned by||Shavick Entertainment (95.84%)
Re:Source Media (4.16%)
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)
|Formerly called||PrideVision TV (2001–2004)
HARD on PrideVision (2004–2005)
|Bell TV||Channel 609 (SD)|
|Shaw Direct||Channel 574 (SD)|
|Available on most Canadian cable systems||Consult your local cable provider for channel availability|
|Bell Aliant TV||Channel 249 (SD)|
|Bell Fibe TV||Channel 1609 (HD)|
|MTS||Channel 295 (SD)
Channel 1295 (HD)
|Optik TV||Channel 347 (SD)
Channel 9347 (HD)
|SaskTel||Channel 108 (SD)|
OUTtv is a Canadian English language Category A cable and satellite specialty channel that is owned by OUTtv Network Inc., a joint venture between Shavick Entertainment (which owns 95.84% of the network) and Re:Source Media (which owns the remaining 4.16%). The channel airs entertainment and lifestyle programming aimed at LGBT audiences. OUTtv maintains offices in Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia.
The channel was launched on September 7, 2001 as PrideVision TV. Owned by Headline Media Group, it was Canada's first 24-hour cable television channel targeted at LGBT audiences. It was also the second LGBT-focused channel to be established in the world, after the Gay Cable Network in the U.S., which shut down in 2001. The channel was a lifestyle and general entertainment channel consisting of dramas, comedies, feature films, documentaries and talk shows, as well as pornographic films. PrideVision TV was one of 21 television channels that were granted a Category 1 licence (which required it mandatory carriage on Canadian cable and satellite providers) by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on November 24, 2000. Levfam Holdings Inc. (otherwise known as Headline Media Group) owned 70.1% of the licence while Alliance Atlantis owned the remaining interest. In February 2001, before the channel was launched, Alliance Atlantis sold its entire interest in the licence to Headline Media Group, which became the sole owner of the licence.
PrideVision had considerable difficulty building an audience in its early years because the channel was marketed by many television providers as a standalone premium adult channel rather than packaging it with other specialty channels, primarily since it carried mostly pornographic content after midnight Eastern Time, and did not have a timeshift channel for the west coast (which led to PrideVision's adult content airing as early as 9:00 p.m. in the Pacific Time Zone). While it was mostly marketed as a premium service, considerably reducing the number of potential subscribers, the channel also faced particular resistance from Shaw Cable, the largest cable television provider in Western Canada, which was accused of constraining the availability of PrideVision during the channel's first few months in operation. During a three-month long free preview period that was mandated by the CRTC to help launch the slate of new digital specialty channels that had launched at that time, Shaw customers who tuned to PrideVision were prompted with a screen and had to navigate through various others to ultimately come to the conclusion that they were to be charged a 1¢ fee to view the channel. This process would have to repeated every time a customer turned back to PrideVision, including the 1¢ fee. This process was not required for any other similarly-licensed specialty channel.
PrideVision took its concerns to the CRTC, which ultimately sided with the channel, in that the CRTC believed PrideVision was being treated unfairly and that Shaw must comply with its decision and offer a free preview of PrideVision to its customers, much like it did with other Category 1 channels.
Mounting issues with distribution, disputes with television service providers, slow growth among digital channels as a whole among the industry, and faced with criticisms of providing a weak mix of programming, PrideVision was losing a considerable amount of money. The channel's subscriber base grew much more slowly than expected, with only roughly 20,000 subscribers by the end of 2002 compared to channels such as IFC, which had over 520,000 subscribers in the same time period.
To help grow its subscriber base, PrideVision offered another free preview period to its distributors, and launched a promotional campaign with the slogan "With only 20,000 subscribers we are impotent! Help PrideVision TV GET IT UP!," stating that the channel was in danger of going out of business if it was not supported. Many in the gay community interpreted this as the company blaming them for the channel's problems, although the owners denied this. Despite this, PrideVision's subscriptions did increase slowly. In an effort to reduce its losses, staff at PrideVision were cut from 25 to 10, most of its original programming was dropped, and the street-level studio on Church Street in Toronto was closed in December 2002.
On December 3, 2003, Headline Media Group announced that it was selling a majority interest in PrideVision to a consortium led by broadcaster William Craig. Craig would own the majority share in the company and act as managing partner, while Pink Triangle Press and various other independent production companies and investors held minority stakes. Headline Media retained a minority stake in the company. The transaction was finalized later in 2004.
Shortly after the new owners of PrideVision took over, plans were announced to launch a 24/7 gay adult male subscription service in 2005. It was said that a new 24-hour adult channel was needed to secure better cable distribution for the general interest programming that was carried on PrideVision.
Rebranding as Hard on Pridevision and as OUTtv
In November 2004, PrideVision, in preparation for the launch of a new 24-hour adult subscription channel, was temporarily renamed HARD on PrideVision, exclusively airing adult content in primetime (9:00 p.m.-6:00 a.m. Eastern Time) while lifestyle and entertainment programming aired during the remainder of the schedule.
PrideVision's owners were granted a licence by the CRTC for the adult channel on March 4, 2005. The channel was tentatively named 617. The expected launch date was April 7, 2005; however, the new channel launched five days later on April 12 due to difficulties with gaining carriage on TSPs. On that date, HARD on PrideVision was renamed OUTtv, with a new 24-hour schedule consisting of entertainment and lifestyle programming, while the new adult channel launched as HARD on PrideVision with a 24-hour schedule consisting of adult content. This was done to create a seamless transition from one service to the other and to create the illusion of PrideVision evolving into a 24-hour adult service; however, this was not the case.
Even with the launch of the new adult subscription channel and the removal of all adult content from the newly renamed OUTtv, the channel was still facing resistance from Shaw Communications and its national satellite television service, Star Choice (now Shaw Direct). Both distributors wanted to continue packaging OUTtv as a standalone premium service rather than a general interest specialty channel, which most other major television providers had done. OUTtv filed a complaint with the CRTC; however, the parties settled their disagreement before the matter was taken to a hearing before the CRTC and had agreed on a packaging deal. A similar deal was made with Bell later that year.
Acquisition by Shavick Entertainment
On July 19, 2006, Shavick Entertainment, a film and television producer based in Vancouver, British Columbia, announced it would acquire the majority interest in both OUTtv and HARD on PrideVision from William Craig. Shavick also announced plans to rename OUTtv, upgrade the technology infrastructure, and provide a wider variety of programming to the channel. Shavick listed its Hollywood-based partner Regent Studios, owners of American LGBT channel here!, as a major content provider to the channel.
HARD on PrideVision was renamed HARDtv in November 2006. On December 3, 2009, the CRTC approved an application that would see HARDtv sold and spun off into its own company, 4510810 Canada Inc., a company owned by Pink Triangle Press (55%) and Peace Point Entertainment (45%). The transaction closed at a later date.
On May 23, 2012, OUTtv announced that the channel would introduce a new logo, on-air graphics, website, and launch of a high definition feed on July 2, 2012. The HD simulcast feed was launched on July 2, and the new website was launched on January 17, 2013.
In December 2012, Shavick Entertainment purchased Pink Triangle Press's 24.94% interest and Peace Point Entertainment Group's 15% interest in the channel.
In mid-2006, OUTtv ventured into its first international market when it reached a deal with SelecTV to distribute OUTtv on its lineup in Australia through a package called "CurveTV". However, in early 2007, OUTtv and the CurveTV package was discontinued due to a low number of subscriptions.
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- "2002-2006 Individual Pay, PPV, VOD, and Specialty Services Financial Records". CRTC.
- PrideVision shutters studio; Playback Magazine; 2002-12-19
- Headline Media Group sells PrideVision to Bill Craig; Channel Canada; 2003-12-09
- Pridevision Announces Expansion and the Launch of a New Gay Channel; Channel Canada; 2005-02-12
- PrideVision changing its format in preparation of new adult-only channel; Channel Canada; 2004-11-09
- Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2005-89; CRTC; 2005-03-04
- OUTtv hearing; Playback Magazine; 2005-05-23
- OUTtv settles with Shaw; Playback Magazine; 2005-08-01
- Shavick Entertainment Acquires OUTtv; Canada's Must-Carry Gay & Lesbian Television Network to be Expanded and Upgraded by Leading Production Company; BNET; 2006-07-19
- OUTtv Brand Refresh | Unveils New Logo | Launches HD Services | Reaches 1 Million Subscribers | New Website OUTtv press release 2012-05-23
- Shavick increases stake in OUTtv from 52 to 95% Cartt.ca 2012-12-19
- OUTtv Signs Licensing Deal to Create the Netherlands` First Gay Lifestyle Television Network; Echelon Magazine; 2008-04-24
- www.outtv.ca – OUTtv official website