For a man's world on late-night TV, it's been cable channel Spike and pay channel Playboy. Now a new player, Men 7, is entering the space with a midnight show emphasizing entertainment, consumer technology, extreme sports and of course women.

Los Angeles-based Bennett Group is launching the Men 7 Network this week on cable television, the Internet and mobile devices.

Men 7 is using its own high-definition production facilities to craft content in
various formats; ranging from 30-60 minutes for broadcast on cable TV, five to seven
minutes for online viewing and two to three minutes for delivery of programming on mobile devices.

The new network debuts its flagship program, "The Men 7 Show," on July 3 at midnight on the Ion Media Network simultaneously across Internet and mobile platforms. The show is hosted by Tava Smiley and Hoyt Christopher.

Ion is carried by DirecTV and KPXN (Channel 30) in Los Angeles.

"It used to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to launch a broadcast or cable network, but today with broadband opening up so many channels, it's brought down traditional barriers to entry," said Darren Chuckry, chief operating officer at Men 7 Network.

In addition to the cable television show, the network will simultaneously launch with nine other shows from its library on its Men7.tv Web site. Shows include "Bikini Destinations," "The Extremists" and "Beyond the List." Those shows will be distributed via Web sites such as YouTube, Veoh, Joost and Hulu.

Casey Bennett, Men 7's chief executive, believes he can reach a more lucrative target audience than his competitors by using an
all-HD format in a glossy entertainment
magazine style. He believes other men's
programming targets a demographic with lower incomes.

"We aren't going after that audience," Bennett said. "We are going after older, more affluent men. "

Spike and Playboy currently dominate late-night machismo fare.

Spike's biggest hit is its "Ultimate Fighter" series featuring mixed-martial arts, now in its seventh season, along with reruns of "CSI" and "Star Trek" franchises. Spike also shares Playboy TV's content and marketing promotions, making the duo a substantial cross-marketing force.

Program Progress

In the mad dash to capture audience in the world of alternative media, major national broadcast TV networks have been jockeying for position on popular video Web sites at an ever increasing pace.

ABC has brought its programming to its own Web sites. But the Disney-owned network was slow to expand its audience to other new media companies by allowing them access to its shows.

That may be changing.

ABC and ESPN recently struck a deal with Veoh Networks, and are reportedly eyeing similar online video Web sites Hulu and YouTube.

Both ABC and ESPN are owned by Burbank-based Walt Disney Co.

Full episodes of prime time shows such as "Lost," "Desperate Housewives" and "Ugly Betty," along with short clips and game highlights from cable network ESPN, became available on Veoh.com last week.

Veoh has been heavily promoting ABC's fare on its home page in an effort to drive traffic toward its shows. Westwood-based Veoh has more than 3 million unique viewers a month, according to Nielsen Online, and it features content from more than 100,000 sources, including NBC, Fox, Comedy Central, CBS and MTV.

The Veoh deal is ABC's second agreement to make advertising-supported shows available at Web sites outside the Disney empire. The network entered a similar pact with AOL last year.

CBS has been one of the most aggressive networks in the sector, with its shows appearing on Veoh, AOL, MSN, Bebo, Joost and Comcast.

Veoh is backed by media heavyweights, including Michael Eisner's Tornante Co. and Time Warner Investments.

Hallmark Advancing

The Hallmark Channel continues to pick up cable companies to carry its high-definition movie channel, last week signing up Cox Communications in a multiyear agreement.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hallmark already has similar agreements with Comcast; Time Warner Cable; Bright House Networks; Cablevision; and DirecTV, which carries both Hallmark's standard and high-definition movie channels throughout Los Angeles County.

Hallmark Channel USA is owned by Studio City-based Crown Media Holdings Inc.

Staff reporter Brett Sporich can be reached at bsporich@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 226.

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