|Launched||September 7, 2001|
|Owned by||Shavick Entertainment (95.84%)
Re:Source Media (4.16%)
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Slogan||Canada's Only National Gay and Lesbian Television Network|
|Replaced||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||Check local listings, channels may vary|
|Bell Aliant TV||Channel 249 (SD)|
|Bell Fibe TV||Channel 609 (SD)|
|MTS||Channel 295 (SD)|
|Optik TV||Channel 187 (SD)|
|SaskTel||Channel 108 (SD)|
Launched on September 7, 2001 as PrideVision TV by Headline Media Group, it was Canada's first 24-hour LGBT cable television channel, and the second to be established in the world, the first being the Gay Cable Network in the United States. The channel was a lifestyle and general entertainment channel consisting of dramas, comedies, feature films, talk shows, as well as pornographic films, and more. It was one of 21 television channels that were granted a category 1 (mandatory carriage) licence 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 broadcaster Alliance Atlantis owned the remainder. In February 2001, before the channel was launched, Alliance Atlantis sold its entire interest in the licence to Headline Media Group, becoming 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 ET, and did not have a timeshift channel for the west coast (which led to this adult content airing as early as 9 p.m. PT). While being mostly marketed as a premium service, considerably reducing the number of potential subscribers, the channel also faced particular resistance from Shaw Communications, the largest cable television provider in Western Canada, which was accused of constraining the availability of PrideVision during the first few months in operation. During a three-month long free trial preview period that was mandated by the CRTC to help launch the slew of new digital specialty channels launching 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 one cent fee to view the channel. This process would have to repeated every time a customer turned back to PrideVision, including the one cent 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 TSPs, 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 wasn't 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 cut, 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 of 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.
Re-branding 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 (9pm-6am EST) while lifestyle and entertainment programming aired during the remaining time period.
PrideVision's owners were granted a licence by the CRTC for the adult channel on 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 TSPs. On that date, HARD on PrideVision was renamed OUTtv with a new 24/7 schedule consisting of entertainment and lifestyle programming, while the new adult channel launched as HARD on PrideVision with a 24/7 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 is 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, Shaw Direct, then known as Star Choice. Both distributors wanted to remain 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.
Shavick Entertainment's acquisition
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 their 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 an HD feed on July 2, 2012. The HD channel was launched on July 2, and the new website is expected to be launched in January 2013 after some initial delays.
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 in its lineup in Australia through a package called CurveTV. However, in early 2007, OUTtv and the package CurveTV was discontinued due to a low number of subscriptions.
- "PrideVision TV: Canada's GLBT Television Station". lesbianlife.about.com.
- Decision CRTC 2000-456; CRTC; 2000-12-14
- Decision CRTC 2001-54; CRTC; 2001-02-09
- Struggle for your TV set; Xtra!; 2001-10-04
- Crtc Rules In Favor Of Gay-themed Channel; AllBusiness.com; 2001-10-02
- "Digital channels inching towards profits". Playbackonline.ca.
- Gays Snub Pridevision; Windy City Times; 2003-04-23
- "PrideVision & prejudice". www.diversitywatch.ryerson.ca.
- "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