04/10/15: ASPiRE & EL REY



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CYNOPSISBACKSTAGE
BEHIND THE SCENES at the Upfronts
The People! The Parties! The Buzz!a

We’ve got the Upfront updates on ASPiRE and El Rey

ASPiRE Aims High
Born of a search by Comcast for new independent networks owned by and targeting minorities, and founded by basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson in 2012, ASPiRE is continuing its mission to present viewers with a different view of the African American experience. Coming up: fresh ideas, new shows and a plum onscreen spot for Johnson. Paul Butler, General Manager and Tina Thompson, Director of Programming, offer Cynopsis a look at what’s on deck for a network grounded in faith, family and community – with a few points thrown in by Johnson.

The message: “ASPiRE Presents A Different Reality.”
Says Butler, “We’re the destination for viewers who want to see aspirational images, authentic stories and achievable lifestyles of African-Americans.”


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NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS 2015: DON’T MISS A MOMENT

For the fourth straight year, EVERY NHL Stanley Cup Playoff game will be televised nationally by NBC Sports.
Up to 105 playoff games and 260 hours of programming across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network and NHL Network,
and all live streamed through NBC Sports Live Extra.

The playoff action begins on April 15and will culminate in the Stanley Cup Final on NBC & NBCSN
with Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire there for every moment.


With that in mind, the net’s rolling out three new shows. Aspire Jam Sessions serves as an unplugged artist showcase. On the Yard expands HBCU lifestyle coverage, and Changemakers throws a spotlight on celebs and leaders making a positive impact in the African-American community. Thompson is especially excited about Changemakers. “So much of what we see right now with celebrities is about glitz and glamour,” says Thompson, “but this series highlights how celebrities are using their influence to make real change and impact the world.”

And ASPiRE’s working a little Magic, too. The LA Laker-turned-entrepreneur is hosting a special series, Magic in the Making. The goal, says Johnson, is “a show that presents once-in-a-lifetime gatherings of talented, successful friends who talk about and share honest stories, funny moments and lessons they have learned. I want to share these moments with the next generation of groundbreakers and game-changers to help them learn to advance themselves.”

Digitally Speaking…
ASPiRE is launching a 360 platform around Changemakers, featuring custom vignettes and long form series, as well as the digital launch of the Changemaker Awards, honoring African-Americans who are making an impact in film, technology, business, education, entertainment, politics and sports. “We know that viewers are watching TV anywhere and everywhere they can,” says Butler. “Our goal is to reach them in all the places they are and engage them on a deeper level with content that is relevant.”

New Categories
“We want to move the needle for brands in technology, QSR, family restaurants, financial/banking, retail and pharma,” says Butler. To do that, the net is continuing offerings that include “custom content solutions, working to integrate brands and feature our clients’ pro social initiatives in unique ways.”

Standing Out From the Competition
“Cultural connectivity matters to African-Americans,” points out Butler. “More than any other ethnicity, they want TV shows that they can relate to. They want more positive reflections of African-Americans on TV and more programming that connects them to their culture. ASPiRE is filling the void by attracting an audience of males and females that’s more professional, more affluent and better educated than other options in the marketplace.”

What Clients Are Saying
“Our theme, ‘A Different Reality,’ is really resonating as a unique value proposition in the current marketplace,” says Butler. “ASPiRE’s connection to culture and community through aspirational images, authentic stories and achievable lifestyles is brand defining.”

Just Asking:
Angela Burt-Murray, Erin Jackson and Issa Rae, co-hosts of “no topic is off-limits” talk show Exhale, open up  and Magic Johnson gets some shots in, too.

What’s your go-to social media platform?
Jackson:
I’m a Facebook-er first and foremost, which is probably showing my age. First runner-up is Instagram, and Twitter rounds out my top three.
Burt-Murray: Facebook and Instagram.
Johnson: Twitter. Twitter has given people a voice around the world.

Guilty Pleasure TV Show?
Jackson:
My guilty pleasure and favorite show on network TV these days is Jane the Virgin. Quit judging me. The concept is so fresh and the writing is super clever and funny.
Burt-Murray: Scandal on ABC, Fixer Upper on HGTV and anything Real Housewives on Bravo.
Rae: Vanderpump Rules.
Johnson: Love all the shows. I love First 48. I have probably seen every episode.

What’s your dream job?
Burt-Murray
: Ambassador to Japan.
Rae: Working in environmental sustainability technology.
Jackson: I
f I could choose another dream job, it would probably be a hairstylist. My mom always encouraged me to pursue it. I used to do everyone’s hair in the dorms at Howard, and she made me ask my “clients” to sign release forms in case those box perms took their hair out.

What new show on ASPiRE are you most excited about?
Burt-Murray:
The return of ABFF Independent.
Rae: Exhale, of course.
Jackson: I
am looking forward to watching Exhale in real time and live tweeting with fans. I just moved to a new city and my cable carrier just added ASPiRE, so I’ll get to see the show as it airs for the first time

Do you miss basketball?
Johnson:
No, that was a part of my life at that time. I love the game and will always cherish those memories. I love what I’m doing now, fulfilling my dreams in business and philanthropy.

Quotable Quote:
“We’re delivering on ASPiRE’s original promise to be a platform for the next generation of African Americans.”  Paul Butler

-       reported by Meredith Berlin


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EL REY

What a difference a year makes. Just ask Robert Rodriguez, the Austin-based independent filmmaker who launched El Rey with his team at FactoryMade Ventures in December 2013. The network, now in 40 million homes, targets movie- and TV-loving millennials, particularly U.S.-born Hispanics (aka English-speaking Latinos), with a mix of genre pics, acquired series like Miami Vice and The X Files and originals. When asked if he felt he had met or exceeded his goals for Year One, Michael Finn, Senior VP Sales for El Rey, had this response: “I think we’ve met Robert’s vision for this network. He wanted to create a network for and by the new mainstream in America-multicultural audiences, which comprise 55 percent of our viewers. In addition, 80 percent of the network’s writers and producers are Hispanic or multicultural, so I think we’re knocking it out of the park.”

The ad community has taken note. “We’re excited that El Rey’s programming and talent is truly reflective of the new America we live in today,” says Karina Dobarro, VP, Managing Director, Multicultural brand strategy, Horizon Media. Creativity and culture is at the center of everything Robert Rodriguez develops, produces and airs on El Rey Network.” Dauber adds that El Rey provides clients with engaging, high-quality content and integration opportunities.

Here, Finn discusses some recent integrations and shares the network’s plan to grow its audience in 2015-16.

What’s the pitch?
El Rey is a male-focused, action movie-loving audience, but the fact that it’s multicultural and built and run by a network that’s reflective of the new mainstream multiculti audienceand that we have a 20 acre film studio in Austin, Texas, that advertisers can take advantage ofare our greatest points of differentiation.”

Cause for celebration
We were rated in November 2014. Before that, we knew we’d get male viewers and deliver action, movie content, and that we’d be proud of how it looks. Ultimately, it’s reaching the audience we want it to reach.

More millennials, Please
On the digital side, we’re making an announcement in the next 30 days to bring in Hispanic and social-media savvy producers to build content with Robert. In other words, we’re taking advantage of our digital side to create content for those outlets and have that content migrate back to the cable channel. We’re bringing in stars and social media folks like Vine creators to help us produce content that connects to a younger audience.

Not boasting, but…
Heineken was a big partner of ours for the past year. They were integrated into From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series. The series had great opportunities for beer. We built Dos Equis into six or seven episodes. It wasn’t just product placement. There are also content pieces that were shot by Robert and his team in Austin-they actually make the commercials that air during the program. In some cases, the ads feature talent from the series. All the content that we’ve made with advertisers over the past year in the auto, wireless, and beer categories has been pushed out through social media networks, both ours and theirs.

New category wish list
“QSR is a big one, and this network is built for it. We have Burger King, but hope to expand. Another is electronics-we have a male audience, so it’s a perfect fit, and auto. We have General Motors, which has been a huge partner since day one. Chevrolet provides all the cars for From Dusk Till Dawn. They get great international exposure for being part of show, since the series is available on Netflix to more than 100 territories. Cadillac sponsors The Director’s Chair, another of our original series in which Robert sits down with directors such as Quentin Tarantino, John Carpenter and Guillermo del Toro, and discusses their careers. It’s a perfect opportunity for Cadillac to own that show. In terms of insurance, we have Geico on board now, but there’s definitely room to grow the category.”

What clients want
“In meetings, I hear a lot about digital and video and mobile and programmatic buying as well as the need to engage the changing demo in the U.S. with great storytelling. We believe that’s something that will stay at our core.”

On the Radar
In addition to From Dusk Till Dawn and The Director’s Chair, the original series Lucha Underground, a mix of Mexican-style wrestling and folklore produced by Mark Burnett, has helped attract young male viewers as well as advertisers.

We’re also making a push with our People’s Network initiative for multiculti audience and creators. This will be key for us at the end of 2015 into 2016: to engage our audience to create content with us. A viewer could win the opportunity to be on set and work with Robert. In the past, weve had calls to action for logos, promos and show ideas. You’ll see lots more over next year and there will be opportunities for advertisers to align themselves with these calls for action.

And then there’s the movies…
Movies on the network have been curated by Robert and Quentin Tarantino since day one. There’s lots of kung fu, monster movies, and horror movies, which lend themselves to creating theme weeks and stunts. We have a ton planned, based on the success of events like “Rip Your Heart Out” on Valentine’s Day in which we showed seven Italian horror films. We’ve had a number of movie studio and gaming partners who we’ve matched up with timing and theme. We created mashup tune-in spots with the feature film Hercules. Creatives at El Rey took the studio’s promo spot and spliced it together with our promos. It was carried on-air and on social media.

Spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S
In an atmosphere where prognosticators are predicting doom and gloom for the marketplace, we’re going to double – if not triple – ad dollars and do great things with folks who want to reach this audience.”

Just Asking…
From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series’ Zane Holtz, (Richie Gecko), and D.J. Cotrona, (Seth Gecko) took time out from shooting season two in Austin to answer some random questions for us, as did Alberto El Patron, of Lucha Underground.

Zane Holtz
What’s your favorite social media platform?
Instagram.
 
Can’t-miss TV show
D
.J. just got me hooked on Peaky Blinders.

What’s the job you’d most like to have but know you never will?
I wanted to be a surgeon when I was a kid but I think that
s no longer in the cards.

D.J. Cotrona
What’s your favorite social media platform?
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Tough question. Twitter can be great for news.

Can’t-miss TV show
Peaky Blinders
, Game of Thrones, True Detective, Black Mirror… too many good ones to choose.

What’s the job you’d most like to have but know you never will?
Zane Holtz

Alberto El Patron
Favorite Social Media
I don’t like social media but I use it because when you’re a public person these days, you have to be in touch with the audience. The one I use most is Twitter.

What’s the job you’d most like to have but know you never will?
I’m doing it: my dream growing up was always to be a wrestler.

-Reported by Michele Shapiro

Coming up in Backstage at the Upfronts, hitting your mailbox at 6pm!

Where’s Jerry Seinfeld going to be next Tuesday at 11am? At the Crackle Upfront, of course, taking place at the Hudson Theatre. We’ll have all the deets on the Sony net’s TV Upfront debut.

Content, conversation, and cocktails will shape ABC Family’s Upfront ‘do at SIR Stage 37 next Tuesday evening. And Cynopsis will be there.



Keep Watching & Reading,
Lynn Leahey, Editor
Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group 

Cynopsis Ad Sales: Mike Farina | VP, Sales | 203-218-6480

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