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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, June 19, 2001

VH1 wants to become part of viewer's lives

USA Today

VH1 is stepping up its slate of original programming, creating themed nights to prod viewers into watching more regularly.

Like other basic-cable networks, the network hasn't found it easy to become part of a regular viewing pattern.

"Generally, the viewer habit has been to surf over and see what's on VH1," says programming chief Fred Graver. "But they don't know what happens Monday at 9."

VH1's move echoes sister channel MTV, which has found success with "The 10 Spot," a dedicated 10 p.m. home for original programming.

But VH1 has "branded" entire nights of programming, shifting its schedule an hour later than typical prime time, from 9 p.m. to midnight Eastern/Pacific, to reach its 25-to-34-year-old target viewers. "Our audience is a little older. They're getting home from work, putting kids to bed," Graver says.

The new lineup has kicked off this week with "My Mondays," featuring content selected entirely by viewers using VH1.com: A favorite "Behind the Music" episode, followed by new countdown show "What's My 20?" ranking all-time "greatest" videos. Rock-themed movies continue on Wednesdays, and Front Row Fridays will feature concerts, events and "Storytellers."

Weekends will offer an original programming showcase, starting with "Cover Wars" (regularly Saturdays at 9:30), a weekly tournament of cover bands that Graver likens to "The Gong Show," "but in a good sense." David Letterman's bandleader, Paul Shaffer, is the host of the show that pits three bands against each other as judges ask them to improvise popular songs.

Due in August or September are "Undercover," VH1's music-themed variation on "Candid Camera," and the channel's first dramatic series, "Strange Frequency," a Sunday horror anthology based on an original movie that aired in January.