Cable networks eye new channels
Tim Roth
Credit: Corbis Sygma

Cable TV networks have always been designed for a targeted audience, whether it’s sports fans, food lovers or history buffs. But as new developments in digital television expand the number of cable channels available in each home, enterprising networks are introducing ultra-specific spin-offs that seem targeted to an individual viewer’s DNA.

This week Disney announced the April launch of “Toon Disney,” an offshoot of its cable channel that will feature only animated programs. Next year, MTV and VH1 will kick off six new channels that each feature one of the following genres: hard rock, indie rock, Spanish-language, soul, country and new age. And come September 1998, Lifetime introduces the Lifetime Movie Network, which will appeal to the Jaclyn Smith fan in all of us by broadcasting only recent made-for-TV movies.

With your cable box expanding, it’s inevitable that other narrowly focused channels will follow. As a public service from the website that believes in the doctrine, “One channel, one viewer,” here are EW Online’s future spin-off suggestions to our friends in cable:

A&E, “The Wide-Lapel Channel”: By devoting an entire cable band to reruns of such dated ’70s detective shows as “Columbo,” “Banacek” and “McCloud,” A&E can lock in those viewers who believe this country has been going to pot ever since sideburns got shorter than eight inches and auto makers stopped putting fins on sedans.

Comedy Central, “The B-List Comedy Channel”: Comedy Central’s slim movie library holds many lesser-acclaimed films by famous comedians. A new channel airing only such flicks as Robin Williams’ “Cadillac Man,” Steve Martin’s “L.A. Story” and Woody Allen’s “Manhattan Murder Mystery” will appeal to insecure 18- to 49-year-olds who need to be reminded that even their idols have bad days.

The TV Food Network, “The Rigatoni Channel,” “The Cumin Channel,” “Celery TV,” etc.: With a shopping list of channels geared toward specific ingredients, viewers can tune in for recipes based on whatever they have in their kitchens at any given moment.

USA, “The Silent Jiggle Station”: By providing all-day reruns of such T&A-fests as “Baywatch,” “Silk Stalkings” and “Pacific Blue,” all shown without sound, this channel will appeal to the true jigglefest connoisseur who doesn’t like pesky dialogue to interfere with the show.

TBS, “The :55 Channel”: TBS is famous for starting all its programming at five minutes past the hour. This sister station will air the same shows, but beginning at five minutes before the hour. Watching “The :55 Channel” late at night will allow all-day TBS viewers to readjust their body clocks; then they won’t arrive five minutes late for work the next morning.