WE tv: All in for Unscripted

WE tv is making an impact as a highly social, pure-play reality network, focused on engaging and diverse personalities. Net president Marc Juris explains a brand expansion that’s paying off.

Marc Juris Headshot 2015Cynopsis: How has WE tv evolved?

Marc Juris: Two years ago, we embarked on a major brand expansion, moving away from WE as “Women’s Entertainment” and toward the communal power of the word “WE,” to be further aligned with today’s connected, social media-fueled world.

Today, WE tv holds a unique place in the television landscape as a pure-play reality network focused on unscripted originals. The common denominator, or what makes our shows break through the clutter, is that they are all focused on real and relatable characters that resonate with viewers.

braxton family values

Braxton Family Values

At its core, WE tv is diverse, with a strong slate of originals that frequently makes it the #1 cable network for African-American women and adults on Thursday nights. These include shows like Braxton Family Values, Growing Up Hip Hop,”and a new docu-series called Money. Power. Respect., focused on dynamic female entertainment attorneys who are driving much of the entertainment industry in New York.

Cynopsis: What types of shows is your audience most drawn to?

Juris: Our shows are personality-driven and that has let us explore a broad diversity of worlds, from music and entertainment, to medicine, to the restaurant business. In addition, our viewers have strong interest in shows that focus on relationships. We have built an incredibly successful franchise with Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars, a show that came out of our very successful and long-running Bridezillas franchise. Some may not realize that the first two seasons of Marriage Boot Camp were focused on former Bridezillas trying to save their marriages. Combined, those two franchises have already been responsible for almost 20 seasons of television on WE tv and Marriage Boot Camp is just getting started.

The world’s foremost matchmaker, Patti Stanger, just wrapped a successful first season on WE tv with Million Dollar Matchmaker. Patti’s no-nonsense approach to love and dating struck a chord with our viewers this season and was a fantastic addition to our Friday night lineup.

Cynopsis: What are the most exciting programs coming up?

My Life Is a Telenovela

My Life Is a Telenovela

Juris: We have an incredibly exciting few weeks coming up at WE tv, with lots of new original programming on the schedule. Tonight, Friday, October 7, is the season premiere of Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars, followed by the series premiere of My Life Is a Telenovela, which is a first-of-its kind look behind the scenes of the hyper-competitive world of telenovelas. We produced this show in partnership with Telemundo, and it focuses on real-life actresses vying for the same role in an actual telenovela airing on Telemundo.

Then on Thursday, October 13, we have the season two premiere of breakout series Growing Up Hip Hop, our real world version of Empire, starring the progeny of Hip Hop royalty – Angela Simmons (daughter of Rev. Run), Romeo Miller (son of Master P), Damon “Boogie” Dash (son of Damon Dash), Kristinia DeBarge (daughter of James DeBarge), TJ Mizell (son of Jam Master Jay), and Egypt Criss (daughter of Sandra “Pepa” Denton and Treach). We are also debuting Money. Power. Respect., which further focuses on the glamorous yet cutthroat world of the music industry, through the eyes of the high-powered entertainment attorneys who turn artists into stars and negotiate lucrative deals for their celebrity clients…and themselves.

Looking to 2017, we are excited about Dr. Miami, currently in production and starring Dr. Michael Salzhauer, a top Miami plastic surgeon who has attracted millions of followers by sharing his life, his practice and his procedures on social media platforms including Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. Dr. Salzhauer has built up a huge following on social media and a wildly successful practice with a two-year waiting list. The show looks at both worlds, the people around him who have contributed to his success, and a life that is as dramatic as his Snapchat Story.

Also to come is Hustle & Soul, focused on the owner and staff of Brooklyn’s Pink Tea Cup restaurant. The owner and head chef Lawrence Page is on a quest to make the Pink Tea Cup the first soul food restaurant to garner a coveted Michelin Star, while managing his spirited and highly entertaining staff.

Cynopsis: What kind of research have you done to hone in on your target audience?

Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars

Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars

Juris: We know who are viewers are. We know because they talk to us – and about us – all of the time. Our programming is highly social and drives a lot of engagement on social media channels.

Cynopsis: What are you doing that is unique in the advertising space?

Juris: I have been in this business for a long time. And it’s rare to be able to invent something new, but I am proud to say we invented something completely new by leveraging the power of our linear network to create a social experience that builds our brand and appeals to advertisers. WE tv’s cross-platform digital tune-in tag is essentially a sponsor billboard at the end of an on-air promo that drives to sponsored YouTube digital content. It’s a perfect solution for digital advertisers who may not have a national spot and rely solely on alternative sponsorship methods to market their products.

Additionally, we have the “WE Suite,” a comprehensive sponsorship opportunity which gives advertisers a 360-degree presence in and around a show. This year we have expanded the WE Suite to include originals running on both Thursday and Friday, continuing to offer value to our partners and advertisers, and taking them beyond the traditional media buy.

Cynopsis: How would you describe WE tv in 3 words?

Juris: Our tagline is WE tv: All In, and it really does reflect viewers who are all in for our unique brand of unscripted programming. We live by the three defining characteristics that make our programming so distinctive – authenticity, aspiration and relatability.

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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