Participant Media's New Cable Network 'Pivot' Affects Your Entertainment Career -- Here's How

Participant Media's cable network pivot, which launches August 1, 2013, aims to spark a tide of global activism, and even aims to revolutionize cable network versatility.

It's aimed at the coveted millenials (18-34 years old) and wants to inspire groundbreaking social change through them. They're the perfect market since they're immersed in entertainment culture and will soon enter the entertainment business themselves.

"We wanted to design a next-generation channel for the next generation of consumers and leaders," said pivot President Evan Shapiro, former head of AMC Networks' Sundance and IFC channels.

What does all that have to do with you? Well, consider the prospect: a new wave of conscientious youth armed with tools to be more expressive than any preceding generation and fired with the impetus to be socially responsible.

That promises the potential for more online videos, indie films and music to be produced. Perhaps thought-provoking material will actually return to the mainstream (gasp!).

Furthermore, pivot is a nascent cable network, which is an opportunity you should jump on now. Why?

4 Reasons Why You Should Care about pivot

1. This your chance to influence culture.  Most entertainment industry entrepreneurs tend to be indie, but up to now, indie's still considered something of a delicacy. Most people favor the familiar comfort of the mainstream. 

Pivot, with its goal to be "credible, brave, disruptive", offers you a chance to create the provocative content you always make anyway, and attach it to their projects, which widens your audience.

For example, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's variety show "HitRECord on TV!" will be crowdsourced. According to TheWrap, he "invites and encourages anybody with an Internet connection to join him and contribute."

And since Participant Media's content actually creates social change, you'll be involved in making that happen. (North Country led to laws against women's abuse on the job; An Inconvenient Truth sparked worldwide conversation on climate change and earned former Vice President Al Gore a Nobel Peace Prize.)

2. Pivot's not kidding about reaching the millenials.  Unlike the doomed OWN Network and Current TV, which both tried their hand at this, pivot's already packing cultural firepower in its alliance with the venerable Rolling Stone to produce cross-platform content.

According to Participant Media's March 27, 2013 press release, the network plans to feature Rolling Stone writers and editors on its shows and collaborate on a special research study of their young market. Likewise, Rolling Stone plans to do a 3-issue special feature celebrating millenials in the fall, which pivot's execs and creative talent will supplement with videos.

3. The network comes with a built-in audience.  Variety and TheWrap report that parent company Participant Media acquired the Documentary Channel and Halogen TV last year, scoring 40 million+ viewers in the process.

4. A new network needs new content, especially with millenials in the crosshairs. They're the most coveted audience because they're also the hardest to reach, and that's because their minds are insatiable. They're constantly searching for the next new fun thing to do, consume, or talk about.

Here's a small taste of pivot's programming, according to IndieWire and The Hollywood Reporter:

  • Participant Media's documentaries (including A Place at the Table and 99% -- The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film)
  • Latin-centric documentaries through its alliance with Univision News and Latin World Entertainment
  • Gordon-Levitt's "HitRECord on TV!"
  • The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge writer Craig Pearce's "WILL," a fictional modern-day period mashup about William Shakespeare (co-produced by A Game of Thrones' Vince Gerardis)
  • Participant Media's 1-hour nightly activism talk show TakePart Live
  • syndicated shows "Friday Night Lights" and "Little Mosque on the Prairie" (a Canadian sitcom that never aired in the U.S.)

So while pivot has its first year in the bag with over 300 hours of programming, that leaves years two and three open to you now.

If it wants to stay relevant, pivot will need what you make.

For starters, it'll need filmmakers.  Since social change is the name of pivot's game, indie filmmakers and documentarians will shine. And then there's TV shows. As you see from the 2013 lineup, fiction and nonfiction are welcome. 

That means every member of any production crew, from pre- to post-production, has a job in his future, down to the production assistant.

It'll need great music.  Every video project, from TV shows, to movies, to documentaries, to YouTube videos, needs good source music and good score. That means you, awesome vocalist, or rapper, or songwriter, or musician, or producer.

It'll need great writers.  Without words, there's no show, no movie, no lyrics. Without you, there's no network. And ultimately, without you, there's no ads. A new cable network equals a new advertising market for big companies, who will need stellar copywriters to craft culturally stimulating ads to run on the network. Make those words sing!

It'll need web designers.  Every show pivot produces will need its own website and/or blog, as well as corresponding social network pages. That's where you come in, WordPress/Joomla!/Drupal/HTML/CSS wizard and Adobe mastermind. ;)

It'll need digital designers.  Pivot's TV shows will need eye-popping graphics; all their movies and documentaries will need exciting posters in print and online; and books will always be included as media tie-ins, so they'll need you to wow the world with those as well.

It'll need software developers.  Reuters reports pivot already has a standalone subscription-based streaming app for those who don't have cable TV, but it'll want apps for the more popular shows and social action campaigns.

How will you see the fruits of your labor?

Any way you want to, according to Shapiro. In addition to its streaming app, pivot will be available through traditional cable and satellite networks, so you'll be able to watch from any device you want anywhere in the world.

Pivot is the first to be available as both a traditional channel and standalone paid-streaming network, boasting the romantic promise I mentioned at the start: the potential to revolutionize cable network versatility. It actually beat HBO Go to the punch. HBO CEO Richard Plepler was considering making his network available to non-HBO cable subscribers, but has taken no action yet.

Here's a Little About Participant Media

eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll founded Participant Media in 2004 (then called Participant Productions), and announced his plans to create the then-unnamed network in December 2012.

Over the past five years, Participant Media's social action arm has garnered a massive community of culture-minded thinkers and doers with up-to-the minute news and action campaigns (including one for the April 15th Boston Marathon bombings). TakePart even has its own YouTube channel, TakePartTV, streaming original content 24/7.

For more info on Participant Media and pivot, you can visit the website.

If you enjoyed this article, share it with your networks and start brainstorming ways to get your foot in pivot's door. As its slogan goes, it's your turn.

pivot logo courtesy of Participant Media.




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About the Author: Mellissa Thomas is a freelance writer, blogger, web content writer, copyeditor, proofreader, and authors three blogs: E.i. Geek (Blogger), her writing blog Mellifluity Inc. (WP), and The Tenderfoot Files, the online platform for her 5-ebook suspense series (WP). 

She has also self-published two books: a weekly devotional entitled From a Babe: A Weekly Devotional, and the first ebook of her 5-ebook series, Abstracted: Episode 1 of the Tenderfoot Series.
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