Capitol Hill indecency claims are not lost on Spike TV. "People assume because we’re a network for men we’re going to do a lot of programming with sexy women," says Kevin Kay, GM/EVP. "But this isn’t Playboy, it isn’t Penthouse. That’s not who we want to be." In fact, Spike is changing its focus from eyebrow-raisers like the canceled cartoon Stripperella to a more action-oriented slate, critical to capturing its coveted young male demographic. Ask guys what show they most associate with Spike, and they invariably point to MXC (formerly Most Extreme Elimination Challenge). "Most people can’t remember the show’s name… but they all remember the crazy Japanese show that’s dubbed, with people balancing on giant rolling pins, falling off in the water and knocking themselves out," Kay says. "That’s the one that always comes up at the focus groups." The Japanese series provides plenty of laughs, but it’s the reality show’s relentless action that makes it a success, Kay says. "Action is a big part of what we are all about," he adds. So are originals. Originals Will Be Key Kay says Spike is pinning its future on original programming, and in keeping with the action theme its first offering will be a two-hour movie based on the film franchise Blade. It will debut in June and likely spin into a series. "We’re looking for the next big thing, and we think that is one-hour dramas," Kay says. Action-oriented reality series also will get a workout. Pros vs. Joes, in which couch-bound strongmen compete with star athletes like Jerry Rice, arrives March 5. "We want to launch one big reality show a quarter," Kay says. "Given all the new digital toys available to young male professionals, it’s fair to assume they could steal time away from the television," says Adi Kishore, director of Yankee Group’s media division. "So you can look at Spike TV in two ways: One, they are chasing a lost cause. Or two, this kind of programming is the only way to get to" males 18-49. Wrestling With WWE’s Loss The jury is still out on how the loss of WWE to USA Network in September will affect Spike. In July, Spike had a prime-time average household rating of 1.3, according to Nielsen Media Research data. For the Nov. 28-Dec. 25 time frame, Spike had a 1.1 prime-time average household rating. Yet, Spike’s carriage might not suffer from lower ratings since the channel is packaged with other Viacom networks, including MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon. "That kind of thing helps tremendously for a young network," Kishore says. "It puts it in a much stronger negotiating position." And packaging Nickelodeon with a network that may be best known for the racy Stripperella irks cable operators. On Capitol Hill Spike’s reputation makes it an easy target when indecency is discussed. "Yes, it has Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns, but next time you tune in it has objectionable, adult-oriented content, and people don’t want to be forced to take it as an expanded basic package," American Cable Association president/CEO Matt Polka says. Executives at Adelphia, Comcast, Cox and Time Warner declined to comment on specific programmers. For his part, Kay says proof of Spike’s new image is how it’s playing with the opposite sex. Spike actually skews 40% female thanks in part to the addition of series like CSI and CSI: New York. Spike TV at a Glance Ownership: Viacom Inc.
Headquarters: New York
Launch date: August 2003
Number of homes: 89 million
Management: Doug Herzog, president; Kevin Kay, GM/EVP; John Cucci, COO; Pancho Mansfield, EVP, original series; Sharon Levy, SVP, alternative programming; Robert Friedman, SVP, programming; David Lawenda, SVP, ad sales; Dario Spina, SVP, marketing; Niels Schuurmans, SVP, creative director; Casey Patterson, SVP, talent development and event production.
Target demographic: men 18-49

The Daily


Welcome Back to Wrexham

Watching Season Two of FX’s “Welcome to Wrexham” (premiered on the network Sept. 12, arrived on Hulu the next day) feels an awful lot like coming home, even for those of us that have never visited the Welsh city or set foot on a football pitch.

Read the Full Issue
The Skinny is delivered on Tuesday and focuses on the cable profession. You'll stay in the know on the headlines, topics and special issues you value most. Sign Up


Dec 6
2023 Most Powerful Women Awards Nomination close on September 8, 2023.
Full Calendar


Seeking an INDUSTRY JOB?

Hiring? In conjunction with our sister brand, Cynopsis, we are offering hiring managers a deep pool of media-savvy, skilled candidates at a range of experience levels and sectors, The result will be an even more robust industry job board, to help both employers and job seekers.

Contact [email protected] for more information.