HOLLYWOOD, Florida. It’s lunch time at the Ugly Crab Bar across the street from the newest jai-alia fronton in the state, and the regulars are casting their votes as to which channel to watch on the single big-screen TV overhead.
“I’m sick of the liberals on ESPN,” barks Duane “Mudflap” McClary, a sheet-rock installer.
“You guys want to watch some golf?” asks bartender Mike Segalio, the son-in-law of the establishment’s owner, who is subbing while his father-in-law keeps a doctor’s appointment.
A short silence falls on the eight men chowing down on hamburgers, tacos and French fries, then they break out in laughter.
“Do we look like golfers?” asks McClary, who is wearing a workshirt with the sleeves cut off and decidedly unfashionable blue jeans.
“I guess not,” Segalio replies sheepishly.
“Try that there Paint TV,” says Arnie Bluchter, a retired mailman.
“Yeah,” chimes in waitress Ann Foccacia. “It’s too hot to watch golf.”
Segalio directs the remote towards the set and after punching in channel 816, the image of a man using a roller to apply pink latex paint to a dining room wall appears.
“Ooh, that’s pretty,” says Foccacia as she sets a plate of fried oysters down in front of a diner.
“Nice,” says McClary. “Very soothing.”
The crowd at the Ugly Crab may find the new viewing option to be a relief from reality shows and the heartburn caused by cable newscasts, but it’s a storm cloud on the horizon for the Golf Channel, the cable and satellite outlet that has had a hammerlock around the neck of boredom enthusiasts since it was founded in 1995.
“There are only so many Americans who turn on the TV intentionally looking for boredom,” says Wall Street media analyst Ted Cranmore. “Most are involuntarily exposed to it when they lose the remote during the middle of PBS Pledge Week.”
Paint TV is the brainchild of Charles Fontayne, whose “Eureka!” moment occurred in 2014 while sitting in an airport gate area underneath a television playing the Buick Open. “My wife Claudine said ‘Watching golf is like watching paint dry,’ and I said ‘It’s worse,'” he recalls. The 67-year-old serial entrepreneur, a lifelong golf hater since his childhood when his father would abandon him on weekends for 4 and 5-hour rounds, began looking for studio space shortly thereafter and launched his dream venture a year later when he had secured financing.
Programming was limited to how-to tips at first, but expanded into game shows (“Paint the Town!”), arts specials (“Brush-Cleaning Tips from the Golden Age of Dutch Painting”), and edgy millennial competitive events such as the House Painting X-Games.
For now, the new network is still behind the Golf Channel in most viewers put to sleep in the all-important adult male La-Z-Boy demographic, but that could change this fall when a new oil-based “Platinum” tier of programming is added. “We won’t catch up with golf right away,” Fontayne says with a gleam in his eyes, “but that’s only because their colors are so much louder than ours.”