04/15/15: ABC Family and Crackle



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

There were packed houses, food, glorious food (and drinks!), and plenty of star power at NYC presentations by ABC Family and Crackle.

“The Most Exciting Part About Being Young? EVERYTHING.”

That comment, projected on the wall of event space SIR Stage 37, pretty much summed up the sentiment as ABC Family trumpeted its 2015-16 season.By doubling original programming and bringing to air unique unscripted shows, the net, proud of its young demographic, claimed the 12-34 group they’ve dubbed “becomers” as their own. And with network celebs on hand, reels that showed off hip and daring programming, and stats like being the number one cable net across women 18-34, 18-49 and 12-34, ABC Family made their message to advertisers clear: if you want young consumers, stick with us.


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The Vibe
Doors opened at 5 to a cavernous dark space with blue lighting, cement floors andABC Family shows projected on walls and stage. Also projected were key statements: “BECOME WITH US,” “EVERY ENTRANCE IS ALSO AN EXIT,” and “THE FUTURE IS UNWRITTEN.” After work networkers and ad people tumbled in, a young crowd dressed in beaded satin and just-from-the-office jeans. By showtime, every seat was filled. After the presentation, stars descended from a VIP area to dance and mingle with guests.

The Stars
Everyone was there! From ABC Family’s flagship drama, Pretty Little Liars, Lucy Hale, Ashely Benson, Troian Bellisario, and Shay Mitchell. Baby Daddy’s Tahj Mowry, Chelsea Kane, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Derek Theler, and Melissa Peterman. Switched At Birth’s Katie Leclerc and Vanessa Marano. Young and Hungry’s Emily Osment, Jonathan Sadowski and Aimee Carrero. The FostersCierra Ramirez. Also on hand were talent from two upcoming shows, Kevin From Work (Noah Reid and Paige Spara) and Stitchers (Emma Ishta and Kyle Harris).

The Nibbles
No peanuts for the ABC Family Upfront. Instead, bowls of roasted potatoes and delicious fried Gruyere sticks were laid at the bar. Waiters carried silver trays of white wine and bubbly water with lime.  Later, two signature drinks were passed: Chai Vodka with fresh fruit juice and a dill-based gin drink. Sliders arrived, along with tomato and mozzarella in fried cones, mini grilled cheese, tiny lobster rolls on toast, and beet salad.

The News
In a YouTube video, the net defined their niche audience: comers and becomers, coming into their first loves, first jobs, first apartments. As Tom Ascheim, President of ABC Family explained, their original audience  Millennials – is older now, some even approaching 40. So ABC Family has decided to go, not after a generation, but a life stage. Or as their video said, “Somewhere between here (teens) and there (adulthood) is us ABC Family.”

The Slate
Over the next four years, the net will be doubling their original programming. Of note:

Comedy Kevin from Work is a true becomers story, said Karey Burke, EVP of Programming. “It’s about a a first crush, a first job and a good guy who gets crushed by both. Girls are going to love this show and it’s got big guy appeal.”

In the drama genre, the net is adding its first procedural. Stitchers, launching in June, focuses on a young woman “who is more comfortable with computers than with humans,” explained Burke. “But she has unique powers and can ‘stitch’ into the memory of dead people.” Also up: Recovery Road, a show that deals with a subject very important to becomers, addiction.

Perhaps the net’s most provocative offering in unscripted is Becoming Us, from Ryan Seacrest Productions, about a 16 year old whose father is having a gender reassignment and transitioning from Charly to Carly. As Seacrest explained via video, “The show explores transgender issues, but at its heart, this story deals with family, love and Ben’s journey to become who he wants to be.” Said Karey Burke, “We are redefining reality, and planting a flag in a big, bold way.”

The App Update
This summer, ABC Family will present a reimagined WATCH ABC Family app, with a new look and a more user-friendly experience. Included will be a video player that lets users personalize their experience with curated photo and video feeds; super fans can access first content.

What are advertisers responding to?
“Our ratings,” said Laura Nathanson, EVP, Sales and Marketing. “We have a good story to tell in all the key categories.” The net is getting more automotive and financial service customers, and “Movie studios come to us when they want to launch,” said Nathanson. “They want our audience.” As for social media, “Our viewers watch 4 hours of TV a day and spend 3 hours on their mobile devices. Advertisers are coming to us now to see how they can get into the social equation. We are creating social add-ons for them.”

Just Asking
What are you most looking forward to on the buffet line?
Tom Ascheim:
Laura Nathanson: Bread pudding sticks

Guilty Pleasure TV shows
Burke, Ascheim and Nathanson
all chose shows they watch with their families.
Karey Burke: House Hunters International.
Tom Ascheim: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Laura Nathanson: Keeping Up With the Kardashians

Jean Luc Bilodeau:Bachelor/Bachelorette. I guess I’m fascinated that there are people who actually think they’ll find their true love on an elimination-based show. Crazy.”
Katie Leclerc: “I am obsessed with Orphan Black and can’t wait for the new season. I’m a sci-fi nerd and the acting on that show is amazing.”

Job You’d Love to Have, But Never Will
Jean Luc:
“I’d love to be an astronaut.”

Katie: “Chef. I grew up in the kitchen and I’m a good cook. Maybe I’ll open a restaurant instead.”

Quote of the Day
“We are telling stories based on what our audience really cares about: aspirational and characters that are relatable, not train wreck TV. Those days are over and those shows feel dated.” – Karey Burke

Reported by Meredith Berlin


Wherever you want.

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a content, data, distribution and solutions company.

See what we mean at together.nbcuni.com
Innovating Together

This year, a new network joined the usual suspects in offering a standalone presentation to advertisers: Crackle. And when the streaming network, which strives to be the first ad-supported TV/on-demand hybrid, rolled out its new original programming slate yesterday at the packed-to-the-rafters Hudson Theater in Times Square, it didn’t disappoint.

Celebrities on hand included Crackle success story Jerry Seinfeld (Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee), who warmed up the crowd with jokes like, “When searching for a network to partner with, a man looks for the same things he looks for in a pair of underwear: a little support and a little freedom.” The former NBC sitcom star called producing a series for the Internet “a freeing experience” and boasted that Comedians in Cars had reached 100 million viewers this month.

Also on hand were Dennis Quaid, Kate Bosworth and Christian Cooke, costars in the network’s first scripted one-hour drama, The Art of More. Set in the high-stakes art world, the series premieres in winter 2015. And just when you thought you’d heard it all, David Spade and Brittany Daniel talked up Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser, the first ever made-for-digital sequel to a major motion picture. “Crackle seemed like the perfect fit,” Spade said, after a clip of him in full-on mullet mode harkened back to the film’s 2001 release. “I have younger fans. My target audience is three-to-five-year-olds.”

There were more laughs to be had (albeit lots of potty and erectile dysfunction humor) when Seth Green along with writers and executive producers Matthew Senreich and Zeb Wells (Robot Chicken) introduced their latest project: an animated comedy series SuperMansion, in which Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), who also serves as an Executive Producer, voices the washed up superhero Titanium Rex.

Executives in Suits Selling Coffee
Sandwiched in between the star cameos were some compelling stats, courtesy of Eric Berger, EVP of Sony Digital Networks and GM, Crackle, and James Smith, VP Ad Sales, Sony Digital Networks.

They emphasized the network’s appeal to 18-34 year-olds, dubbing them “Rechargers”: young, affluent college-educated adults who have household incomes over $75k. They’re early tech adopters and are more likely to watch on connected TV devices than on old-school sets. Unlike traditional media, Crackle, a unit of Sony Pictures Television, houses a robust library of original programming available anytime, anywhere on every connected device

Smith encouraged advertisers to keep buying on TV, but to “take the extra money you’re spending on frequency and spend it on the audience you’re not reaching.”

“It used to be that basic cable was seen as a grade below broadcast TV, and the same has been true [with streaming services], but not anymore,” Sony Pictures Television President Steve Mosko told Cynopsis. “We think the quality of the work we’re presenting is phenomenal.”

Agency reps in the crowd seemed impressed with what they saw. “SuperMansion looks great. But the network’s strong suit is its distribution strategy,” says Jake Marx, Associate Director, Platforms and Partnerships, Omnicon Media Group. “It’s impressive to see the network’s connectivity with various gaming consoles, streaming consoles and smart TVs.”

Something different
The executives proudly unveiled Crackle’s new “ALWAYS ON” experience: as soon as a viewer launches the new Crackle, a scheduled program immediately begins playing. That viewer can watch the show or browse for something else in the channel guide.

Party On!
To close the presentation, guests were treated to two songs by country artist Colt Ford before heading into the lobby to trade notes and snack on crab cakes, beef sliders, and other passed nibbles. The crowd thinned out quickly, but not before grabbing a Cronut and a gift bag containing a Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee mug and a JD2 trucker cap.

Just Asking…
Both the talent and the executives on hand at Tuesday’s Upfront presentation put their thinking caps on to answer some random questions.

Dennis Quaid, Art of More
Favorite social media platform:
I text and email only. I intentionally stay off of social media.
Job I’d like to have but probably never will:
Pro golfer

Brittany Daniel, Joe Dirt 2
Favorite social media platform:
Instagram. I like to take pictures, so Instagram is simple and fun.
Job I’d like to have but probably never will:
A therapist

James Smith, SVP Ad Sales, Sony Digital + Eric Berger, EVP of Sony Digital Networks and GM, Crackle
Favorite social media platform
Instagram to connect with family and friends
Eric: Reddit so I can be a part of the conversation

Guilty TV pleasure
: Swamp People
Eric: Survivor

TV character I most relate to
Jack Bauer because he’s constantly saving the world.
Eric: Dexter… The way he tries to balance family, work, hobbies and doing the right thing….minus the serial killing part

Last thing I ate
Pastrami sandwich from Carnegie Deli
Eric: Slice of pizza from Two Boots

Quote of The Day
“You can exist in the same world as cat videos and get great numbers and great sponsors.” – Jerry Seinfeld.

– Reported by Michele Shapiro

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

The Paley Center will host Simulmedia’s PeopleFront tomorrow, and speaking on panels will be execs from Choice Hotels, Jet.com, JPMorgan Chase, and Facebook.

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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