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It’s all about what’s new at TV One and truTV, two nets with exciting stories to tell.
TV One is putting the “up” in Upfronts, with a hot new show, a new tentpole and a positive ratings trajectory. The network unveiled e highlights during an April 14 luncheon and presentation at Helen Mills, transforming the Chelsea event space into a warm and inviting exploration of African-American culture, accented by couches and throw pillows and bookshelves filled with African-American books and artwork. Photographs on the walls depicted figures from Oprah to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Spike Lee and Redd Foxx, spanning the breadth of African-American history, music, film and television – and the diverse philosophy of the network itself. “We have the most robust and entertaining and high-profile original slate that we’ve ever had,” Brad Siegel, new net President, told Cynopsis just before the intimate gathering kicked off.
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What’s the pitch this Upfront season?
“We had a lot of ratings momentum. Looking at our year, and especially against our competitive set, we’re basically beating them all,” says Senior Vice President of Advertising Sales and Marketing Rahsan-Rahsan Lindsay. “We’re up tremendously from year to year. We’re making ourselves the destination for movie lovers, so we have monthly original movies. It gives us an opportunity to get talent on the network that we might not normally get – somebody who might not be able to commit to a series but can commit to a two-hour movie. It also allows us a continuous opportunity for integration and different things we can do for advertisers. Also, because they can be very genre-driven, it gives us a chance to bring in new viewers based on what the movie is about. For us, that’s all win, win, win.
“Every year, the research is really important but what people really want to know is what’s new: ‘What do you have that is going to do well, that I can get excited about, that I can tell my clients about or that I can think about creating a large partnership [with]?’ We’re launching a new show called Born Again Virgin. It’s a 30-minute comedy, but it’s shot in a sophisticated way, the premise of it being that the main character has decided to be celibate. It’s probably one of the more provocative shows that we’ve done.”
“We are covered in most categories, but there are categories that we feel we would really like to see grow. Consumer electronics is one of them,” says Lindsay. “Another one that we really have been focused on, and we’re starting to see a bit of an uptick but we’d like to see more, is the travel category.”
How do you stand out from your competitors?
“The TV landscape has changed a lot. When we first launched, there just weren’t a lot of African Americans on TV,” says Lindsay. “We thought of ourselves as a complement to BET, a place where older African Americans could go for more adult programming that crossed genres, that wasn’t all focused on music, etc. I think that in this day and age you’re getting more variety, even at the broadcast level with the Empires and the black-ishes of the world. But when it comes to community, that’s where we set ourselves apart-because we’re actually out in the community. We have a daily news program. We’re on the ground when things are happening, like Ferguson. We’re covering it, and we’re covering it longer than say a CNN or an MSNBC might because their news cycle is different. Because we offer something that no one else does, it actually gives us a voice in the community that no one else has. That makes a difference. The other thing is, because we are part of a larger media conglomerate, we have a much bigger digital footprint than a lot of our key competitors. We have Interactive One, which has a bunch of vertical sites, but then we also have the radio component, which is not necessarily sexy but still has a huge amount of reach.”
What your clients are saying
“I think clients are excited that we’re delving into some new programming areas, the fact that we have a tentpole now in the NAACP Image Awards, and that we’ve been adding tentpoles and specials. For many of them, they’re looking at not just ‘What are you going to deliver me on-air, from an impressions perspective?’ but they also want to know, ‘Well, what’s the social buzz behind this going to be and how can I take advantage of that?’ They’re looking for how to make their products more social-friendly. That’s one of the things that we offer.”
“I would say that from a program perspective, the secret is out: black people watch more television. It’s just a fact,” says Lindsay. “So, you’re seeing a lot more networks that are dipping their toe or going full bore. For several years now, you’ve seen the VH1s, the WE tvs and the Oxygens going that direction but now you’re seeing networks that really hadn’t been doing that. It’s an ABC, it’s a FOX. They’re seeing the uptick, and they’re seeing their audience composition change a lot.”
What are you announcing?
“In addition to Born Again Virgin, we have a new comedy called Mitch ‘N Max that we think is going to be a companion piece,” says Lindsay. “We’re launching three sitcoms within the next nine months or so. We’re also launching a new tentpole, which we’re still in the middle of naming, but it will be an early fall [project] that kind of mirrors the Image Awards. We also are going to be revamping our music programming. We want to make music a bigger part of what we do, period. The fact that the Empire soundtrack opened at No.1 the week that it launched was an eye-opener for a lot of people.”
What do people not know about your network that they really should?
“We’re not a big network, we’re sort of a medium-sized network, but we’re still one of the fastest growing networks in cable and we have been for most of our 11 years,” says Lindsay. “In the core audience that we target – African Americans 18-49 and 25-54 – even our raw numbers are still pretty strong. It puts us in the top 10-15 networks, which I think is probably a little bit shocking to folks. The other thing is really just that – based on where we are – that we’re only an 11-year-old network, and we’ve made significant progress. The only network that would be more impressive in that way would be OWN, but it’s also Oprah Winfrey. I think that a lot of people would admit that if they had Oprah Winfrey, there are some things they might be able to do that they can’t do right now!”
It’s Brave’s new world on R&B Divas LA, and we asked her for a little tour.
What’s been the most rewarding moment on your show?
Building meaningful relationships with women that I respect and look up to. I’ve learned so much from them.
What’s the most common reaction you get from fans?
They’re surprised that in addition to singing…I rap. The fans are also proud that I’m not ashamed about my faith, and the fact that I’m brave enough to break into prayer openly.
Favorite social media platform?
I love Instagram and Facebook. I like to write. Facebook allows me to write novels to my fans without having to get cut off at 140 characters.
What’s the job you most like to have but know you never will?
I would love to be a firewoman!
Quote of the Day:
“We have had tremendous growth and we’re going to continue that growth because it’s being fueled by our investment in original programming and marketing.” Brad Siegel
– reported by Mala Bhattacharjee
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An oasis of fun in a landscape of sameness. That’s the concept behind Turner’s newly reimagined truTV, according to Chris Linn, the net’s President and Head of Programming. His message as he heads into this Upfront? “Everything on our air should feel irresistibly sharable.”
“We wanted to remake truTV into a network that was more innovative, more surprising, more engaging, and a lot more fun,” says Linn. “We like to say that we want to deliver a fun ride for grownups.”
Programmed for Success
The network recently announced that it’s acquired Funny or Die’s pop culture game show Billy on the Street with Billy Eichner. TruTV will produce original episodes and air shows from the first three seasons, which originally ran on Fuse.
truTV “has a pretty dual audience,” says Linn. “A lot of people think the network has a heavy male skew, but it’s usually about 55% male and 45% female.”
The median age of the primetime audience is 37 “and dropping,”says Hogan, and HH income is up over the prior year. “We’re delivering a much more premium audience,” adds Linn.
What Clients Are Saying
What defines success for you this upfront season?
“Our biggest challenge right now is awareness; we have made a significant shift in terms of content, look and feel, programming, and brand,” says Linn. “So success would be for advertisers to be aware of this, and to be talking positively about the change.”
This is more than just a rebrand, says Hogan. “It’s a brand new network.”Just Asking… Michael Carbonaro, host of series The Carbonaro Effect, “magician by trade and prankster at heart,” conjured up answers for our getting-to- know-you questions. What’s your favorite social media platform?
I’m a Twitter girl. Guilty pleasure TV show?
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Is there one where I can turn into a cat?
Beatles or Stones?
What was your least favorite subject in school?
Math. I got bored even answering this question!
Keep Watching & Reading,
Lynn Leahey, Editor
Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group
Copyright Cynopsis 2015
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