UP Is On the Rise

up logoUP has undergone a rebrand that transitioned the network from “family friendly” to “family focused.” With a new “We Get Family” tagline, UP acquired series like Gilmore Girls, Parenthood and America’s Funniest Home Videos to complement original programming including Bringing Up Bates, Growing Up McGhee and Jo Frost: Nanny on Tour. The result? Growth for four straight quarters. Network Executive Vice President and General Manager Amy Winter offers the lowdown on UP’s winning strategy.

 

Amy Winter headshot(1)Cynopsis: What made UP decide to rebrand?

Winter: The team at UP recognized an opportunity. Viewers truly appreciated the “feel good” aspect of our positive programming yet it was difficult to articulate what this meant in terms of content and overall brand. There was and there still is a tremendous void in adult-targeted, G and PG-rated programming choices, as shown by our research.

So we decided to tackle it and to create a 24/7 destination for “family in mind” programming with the adult viewer in mind. Our first acquisition was Supernanny – a popular reality show about family that’s highly entertaining and that leaves people in a better place. It basically checked all the boxes and was a great test on the network for the new direction. From there, we started a 2-year build of finding, acquiring and creating original content.

Bringing Up Bates

Bringing Up Bates

Cynopsis: Is your target audience different than before?

Winter: Our target audience remains women 25-54. That said, we have truly refined the category and focused on the “me to we” time in life when our viewers are leaving their single lives behind and starting to get married, have children and/or caring for aging parents. Our shows are centered on characters and storylines about people and families who are experiencing the very same stages in life.

 

Cynopsis: What kinds of research did you use to determine how to refocus?

Winter: UP conducted 3 stages of research in conjunction with partners from Nielsen to Mediavest to Scripps Networks. The studies focused on this family in mind audience, what they are seeking and how they react to different programming. It identified 35 million Americans who say they want G- and PG-rated programming that is also created and meant for adult viewers. Shows that are not necessarily “family friendly” but are family focused. And though most shows on our air are appropriate for most members of the family, with the new programming direction we didn’t want to shy away from any storylines that were relevant to today’s families –  every size, shape, color and background.

Cynopsis: What were the keys to executing the new vision?

Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls

Winter: Fundamentally, we are always audience focused, entertainment first. Our programs have always had heart. We are adding a healthy dose of humor and the real-life drama that also goes along with this life stage.

We began assembling a programming line-up that delivered on our brand promise and the key ingredients we knew were essential for our audience. We acquired fan favorite series about family like Gilmore Girls, America’s Funniest Home Videos and Parenthood and produced new shows including the recently announced scripted series, Date My Dad and non-scripted series, Small Town, Big Mayor, and new seasons of Growing Up McGhee and Bringing Up Bates. And this year we are planning a more robust holiday than in past years with new and acquired movies because holiday time is family time.

On the marketing side, we unified our brand voice across all platforms behind our understanding of our audience and what they realistically are going through each and every day. Each show is delivered with humor and accessibility that are relatable and relevant to our viewers.

Cynopsis: Have the results lived up to expectations? 

Winter: We are extremely excited about our progress and success to date. We are also bullish about increasing awareness and deep connection to our audience with the core brand and with digital extensions including UPLIFT SOMEONE online and in social as well as a dedicated SVOD offering, UP Faith & Family, that super serves that Faith & Family audience.

Cynopsis: Were there any surprises along the way, as far as results? 

 Winter: We are happily surprised at how quickly we have seen positive results. Our awareness is at its highest point in the network’s history, our median age is down to 48, and YTD UP Total Day is up double digits in all key demos.

The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at [email protected].

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