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The People! The Parties! The Buzz!a
The MTV and Scripps Network Interactive Upfront presentations were like night and day – literally. Scripps hosted a breakfast at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall this morning (a warm-up for a cocktail event later today), while MTV got the party started at the Beacon Theatre, and kept it going at Terminal 5, last night.
One of the specials on the menu at Scripps Networks Interactive’s breakfast? The Scripps Lifestyle Roadblock, designed to achieve broadcast scale with spots running on all six of its networks – HGTV, DIY, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel and Great American Country – during a single commercial break. Steven Gigliotti, the company’s Chief Revenue Officer, made the announcement. “Ninety-eight percent of our C-3 viewing takes place on the night we first serve your ads. We call that C-zero,” Gigliotti told the crowd of reporters. “You get engagement, you get ad receptivity, you get higher quality and greater impact for your message. So we thought, Why not reach our entire live viewing audience on all of our networks and digital platforms at the very same time?” An ad runs in the same three-minute window on all nets, delivering an immediate reach, and “initiating a tidal wave of engagement from on-air, to online, to purchase,” said Gigliotti.
Gigliotti also talked about using data insights to help media buyers, details he’ll share again this afternoon at the company’s cocktail event, capping off a seven city tour. Making the rounds will be a constellation of Scripps stars including Food’s Bobby Flay, HGTV’s Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott, and Travel’s Andrew Zimmern, to name just a few.
For now, as we digest all the morning’s data news (not to mention those sinful crepes filled with Nutella and banana), the focus is on Food and Cooking.
Food Network, launched in 1993 and credited by the none other than the New York Times with “inventing the modern era of food television,” and Cooking Channel, spun off in 2010 to replace Fine Living Network, are two Scripps Networks Interactive lifestyle brands with particular appeal to advertisers this Upfront season. “The audience watches us live, they watch us consistently and the ads are very similar to the shows,” says Jon Steinlauf, Scripps’ President of National Ad Sales and Marketing. “Endemic advertising looks like content, and serves as a resource to our audience.”
What’s the pitch?
“Our audience likes us seven nights a week, and the key is they watch the commercials,” says Steinlauf. “Advertisers want the weekend impressions because a lot of shopping, entertaining and projects happen over the weekend.”
Recipe for Success
“From a programming perspective, Food Network and Cooking Channel are unique in that our core programming strategy centers on a singular topic: food,” says Brooke Johnson, President of Food Network and Cooking Channel. “Food is something everyone has some connection or relationship with, we all need food to survive and food will always be at the center of our creative.”
Supporting that creative is an in-house culinary team that “provides invaluable information to all that the brands touch,” adds Johnson, “be it within TV production, digital content, recipe development for our magazine or in how our sales team prepares for client meetings, tapping our culinary expertise for discussing trends in food.”
And that’s keeping clients happy. “It has been an absolute pleasure to partner with Food Network,” said Erin Price, Director of Marketing at Sargento Foods. “From program conception to execution, they’ve been collaborative, creative and open to our feedback and business needs.”
“We are like everyone else, balancing the beloved favorites our audience has come to expect with new and fresh content to engage the established fan base, while also factoring in what the next generation might be craving,” says Johnson. The 2015 programming lineup includes over 40 new series and 30 returning favorites, as well as 15 specials.
“We have seen a resurgence in baking that has played well and offers a ‘sweetness’ our audiences have really been favoring,” says Johnson. Coming up on Food: Spring Baking Championship, premiering this month; Cake Wars, arriving in June and Halloween Baking Championship, debuting in October, as well as specials Outrageous Wedding Cakes in June and Duff’s Cake Masters in August.
“We’ve noticed lately baking is doing really well,” agrees Steinlauf. “We’re looking for trends and capitalizing on things that are happening out there. We just had our best experience ever with parent/child co-viewing with Kids Baking Championship – we had the highest 2-17 the highest ratings we’ve ever had. We had the parents and kids watching together, which is also great for the advertiser. It’s hard to find a show that both parents and kids are going to want to watch together.”
Icing on the Cake
“Our on-air personalities are very much the people that fans have fallen in love with while watching Food Network and Cooking Channel,” says Johnson. “Chefs, restaurateurs, almost all culinary professionals I have met are some of the most generous and giving people around. It is in their DNA to cook and provide nourishment for the people around them, and on top of this, they give hours to the many charities they believe in. It never ceases to amaze me how giving they are and it’s a constant reminder for me that we can all do something to make a difference.”
Cutthroat Kitchen host and culinary rebel Alton Brown (don’t even think of asking him for a garlic press) spills the beans on TV stardom, chef-style.
What’s been your most surprising moment related to the show?
Being invited to a Cutthroat Kitchen birthday party thrown for an eight-year-old.
What’s the most common reaction you get from fans?
“Do you really come up with all those sabotages?”
Did you ever think you’d be a TV star?
I’m more a TV asteroid…maybe a comet.
I’m a pretty decent pilot.
Favorite social media platform?
Twitter is my jam.
Job you most like to have but know you never will?
I think it would be fun to be Bobby Flay.
Most challenging moment on the job?
When the circus ringleader pants I had to wear were three inches too small.
Quote of The Day
“The most lucrative way to program television is go for the live audience.” – Jon Steinlauf
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As the lights dimmed at the Beacon Theatre last night, marking the start of the 2015 MTV Upfront presentation, an ominous voice from the loudspeaker warned, “Watch your backs.” While it turned out the voice was referring to a spine-tingling clip that was about to roll, it could also have been a message for the Millennial-targeting social media platforms looking to lure ad dollars away from the network.
While the competition for those dollars becomes more fierce each year, MTV’s bragging rights include a global reach of more than a half-billion households and 220 million social media fans.
Innovations, Adaptations and a Dose of Reality
To keep social media-savvy fans tuning in, the Viacom-owned network has plucked some talent for its new series directly from those platforms, including YouTube sensation Todrick Hall whose Todrick follows him as he instantaneously creates music videos featuring his signature songs and choreography, and Vine star Logan Paul, who has a series in development.
But the series that the network trumpeted the loudest included two adaptations: one of a blockbuster film franchise (Scream) and the other of a bestselling fantasy book series (The Shannara Chronicles, executive produced by Jon Favreau). “The slate demonstrates the creative breadth of what MTV can do,” said Susanne Daniels, President of Programming for MTV.
Despite the hoopla surrounding the cachet projects, one of the network’s most buzz-generating new series was the half-hour reality show Follow the Rules in which dad, in this case rapper Ja Rule, takes a tough love approach to parenting. “If you’re having a hard time with your kids,” he told the Upfront crowd, “have them watch my show. I’ll set them straight.”
At least one agency vet who viewed the clip, which introduced Ja Rule’s wife, three kids, mother and mother-in-law – all of whom live under one roof – was eager to see more. “It looks like a funny take on a reality TV show,” says Michael Eastwood, Senior Digital Planner at MEC. “It’s not taking itself too seriously.”
At the tail end of the presentation, singer Jessie J got even the most subdued attendees in a party mood. Sporting a red jumpsuit, she performed three high-energy songs including the mega-hit “Bang Bang,” which had the crowd on its feet. From there, guests were transported by bus to Terminal 5, a multi-level music venue in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen, for an event that proved, when it comes to entertaining the masses, the 34-year-old network has still got it.
Philippe Dauman, CEO, Viacom, Tom Dooley, COO, and Jeff Lucas, Head of Sales, were all on hand to meet clients and guests. Nibbles ranged from American Pub fare (sliders, wings) to Fish Shack (fish tacos, tuna melts, shrimp rolls), Breakfast in Bed (egg sandwiches, french toast with pulled pork), Hot Dog Madness, Havana Bar (empanadas, paella) and a Dumpling Bar. DJ Sinatra kicked off the night leading into a surprise appearance by Questlove.
The presentation was hosted by Carly Aquilino and Nessa (Girl Code) and Charlamagne (MTV2’s Guy Code), and featured a performance by indie pop act and 2015 ”MTV Artist to Watch” Misterwives in addition to Jessie J’s show-stopping performance. Other talent on hand included: Bella Thorne (Scream); Ja Rule; Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf); Nev Schulman (Catfish: The TV Show); Katie Stevens (Faking It); Todrick Hall and Vine star Logan Paul.
At The Shannara Chronicles Moon Pie Bar, guests snatched up custom Moon Pies named after the show’s characters along with a card to download an e-book of the bestseller, The Elfstones of Shannara, on which MTV’s new series is based.
What Made it Stand Out Was…
The selfie stations throughout the venue. For instance, in the Scream booth, guests recorded GIFs with an audible scream to post to their social media sites. In addition, MTV partnered with Twitter to bring a selfie opportunity via their Twitter Mirror photo stand.
On the Radar
With more than 80 series currently in development, MTV announced that it has greenlit Middle of the Night Show, a late-night comedy talk show developed with CollegeHumor production studio Big Breakfast in which a different celebrity will host the show from his/her bedroom every night, as well as the live action/animated hybrid series Greatest Party Story Ever and weekly talk show Girl Code Live. “We’re getting faster, more daring, putting more projects into play and taking bigger swings than ever,” said Stephen Friedman, President of MTV. “We’ve exponentially expanded the ways we connect with our audience and deliver for our advertisers.”
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Bella Thorne, Katie Stevens Carly Aquilino, Nessa and Charlamagne spill it on their social media, TV and concert picks.
Favorite social media outlet
Bella: Snapchat. You get to put your whole life on there in a funny way. I’d like to direct someday so it’s a fun experience to tape everything.
Katie: Instagram because it gives fans an inside look at my life! It’s a great way to connect with them.
Carly: Twitter because I get to talk to fans and annoy Dwayne aka The Rock.
Charlamagne: Twitter because it’s people’s thoughts, just the way we are feeling at the time.
Guilty Pleasure TV Show
Katie: The Bachelor – and I don’t feel guilty about it at all!
Nessa: Snapped, because everyone has a breaking point.
Charlamagne: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to Empire and Daredevil.
First concert I ever attended
Bella: Jay Z/Kanye
Katie: On my 8th birthday I went to see Britney Spears!
Nessa: Mariah Carey, I snuck in a few years ago because I’m a true L.A.M.B!!
Quote of The Day
“With a name like that, the show should be starring a black girl.” Guy Code’s Charlamagne on The Shannara Chronicles
– Reported by Michele Shapiro
Coming up in “Backstage at the Upfronts,” hitting your mailbox at 6pm Isabella Rosseillini, southern food experts Matt and Ted Lee and rock photographer Mick Rock are among the guests converging at NYC’s CORE: club in NYC to talk up arts net Ovation. And of course, details from the Scripps cocktail party later today (save a seat for us, Drew and Jonathan!).
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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