In that vein, a new tagline, "Positively Entertaining," is being introduced--along with a refashioned logo that includes a plus sign related to an ionic spark and new orange hue.
Ion's new programming is leaning heavily on off-network syndication, with "Boston Legal," "NCIS" and "ER" either just launching in prime time or set to come the week of Sept. 8. "Ghost Whisperer" and "Criminal Minds" are set for 2009. The network is also evaluating ways to offer originals next year as another step in its upgrades.
The one-time Pax network spent part of this summer running a marketing effort that involved cable spots, print ads and an online promotion involving "ER." The ad-supported network, which still has its share of infomercials and time buys, targets adults 25 to 54. Parent Ion Media Networks operates 60 local stations and two multicast channels. It went private earlier this year, yet still releases some financial results.
In the recently completed quarter, the company posted negative free cash flow of $22.5 million--more than double last year's $9.9 million. Ion said the declining performance was the result of some weakness in the infomercial market, along with its programming investments. Other reasons cited: expenses related to its attempt to reduce its reliance on infomercial revenue and become more of a traditional ad-supported network.
Next year, the company will shift its base from South Florida to New York and said it is expanding its sales, marketing and research operations.
"We are entering a phase of increased programming, marketing and infrastructure investment for the television network," said CEO Brandon Burgess, "while balancing investment with difficult TV market conditions."