Special Report: CYNOPSIS MEDIA PRESENTS: Women In Demand 10/08/14

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM WE tv


WE tv
TOP 5 FASTEST GROWING
CABLE NETWORK
W25-54
A18-49
A25-54
#WEtv

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CYNOPSIS MEDIA PRESENTS:Women In Demand

 

With a bevy of media outlets vying for female viewers in the coveted 25-54 demo, here’s how she-skewing cable nets are giving women (and advertisers) what they want.

By Michele Shapiro
10.08.14

When it comes to spending their hard-earned income, women have a lot of clout. In fact, women control or influence 73 percent of all household purchases, according to the Boston Consulting Group. The same source predicts that within 15 years, women will out-earn men in this country.


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM WE tv


WE tv #1 ON THURSDAYS
AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN AND ADULTS
AND
TOP 3 CABLE NETWORK WITH WOMEN
TOP 5 CABLE NETWORK WITH ADULTS
GET A

SNEAK PEEK OF TOMORROW’S EPISODE OF
THE HIT SERIES BRAXTON FAMILY VALUES
THURSDAYS 10P|9C
 

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For the many media outlets tugging at their purse strings, this is good news and bad news. The good: Such stats appeal to advertisers looking to reach this desirable audience. The bad: Many more outlets­including the broadcast networks, on-demand Internet providers, even cable networks created for men, like Spike TV­are going after the estrogen, too, putting the onus on female-skewing cable networks both old and new to clearly articulate their strategies to viewers and advertisers alike. “With the growth in the number of cable networks catering to women, such as HGTV, Food Network, WE tv, Bravo, TLC and OWN, viewership has gotten increasingly fragmented,” observes Billie Gold, VP, director of programming research at Carat. “It’s tougher than ever to stand out from the pack.”

Well aware of the challenges they face, these female-centric networks have had to figure out what they can deliver better than any other network, be it tips for renovating a home or repairing a broken heart. As a result, tearjerker movies and catfights have given way to programming that, for the most part, is inherently dramatic rather than over-the-top.

“We don’t do overly contrived situations,” says Mark Juris, President of WE tv, which is currently in 85 million homes. “We focus on real families, friends and relationships.” Unscripted series like Marriage Boot Camp Reality Stars, Braxton Family Values and the revamped David Tutera CELEBrations helped elevate WE tv to the top 5 for fastest growing ad supported cable networks in prime among women 25-54 YTD 2014 (excluding news/kids/sports and networks under 70 million homes).

In an effort to keep things real, WE tv has green-lit a series called Sex Box for 2015. Juris insists that the series, in which couples get intimate in a “box” on set before discussing their issues in front of a panel of relationship experts, relies on the same honest approach as the network’s other programming. “The title will bring people here, the show will keep them here,” he says.

By “them,” Juris means women and men. In a bold move, the network rebranded in early September to be more inclusive, which explains why its logo is no longer pink. “We’re still targeted toward women, but we don’t want to alienate 150 million potential viewers,” says Juris.

The dual audience “means more potential ad dollars,” Carat’s Gold points out, adding that Spike TV has seen a slight uptick in the number of women watching the channel (from 40 to 42 percent) since it started chasing female viewers last year with series like Ink Masters, Bar Rescue and Tattoo Nightmares last year.


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM WE tv


WE tv’s KENDRA ON TOP IS BACK
WITH THE SEASON EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT
SEASON 3 PREMIERE MADE WE tv A
TOP 5 CABLE NETWORK
W18-49
W25-54
GET A

SNEAK PEEK OF FRIDAY’S UNBELIEVABLE EPISODE
KENDRA ON TOP
FRIDAYS 9P|8C
 

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Nancy Daniels, GM of the Discovery Communications-owned TLC Network, says the network (now in around 98 million homes) has appealed to its primary viewers­moms in the 25-54 demo­by focusing on interesting, unusual families.

“In the past year our biggest performers are two shows that have been on the air for a long time,” says Daniels. It helps that all sorts of big life moments unfolded while cameras rolled. For instance, The Little Couple’s Jennifer Arnold went to India to adopt her second child, and found out shortly thereafter that she had a rare form of cancer. Meanwhile, on 19 Kids and Counting, one daughter got married, another engaged.

TLC hopes its audience will make a similar connection with the couples featured in 90-Day Fiance, which returns in October for its second season. The series follows six U.S. citizens who fall for foreigners and bring them home. They then have 90 days to decide whether to marry before the foreigner gets deported. “It’s real,” says Daniels. “The process happens whether our cameras are there or not.”

Over at Lifetime, the grand dame of women’s networks seen in more than 98 million households, programming execs are striving to “become more contextually relevant to women today” with a slate that’s “surprising, smart and edgy,” says Mary Donahue, SVP, non-fiction programming. As a result of some unscripted series, “we’re aging down. The average viewer for Bring It is 28. For Dance Moms, it’s 39. Those are good signs.” In addition, this past July, Lifetime parent A+E added a new network to its portfolio, FYI, which is targeted at young upscale women. The network is currently in 65 million homes.

Bring It has also helped Lifetime attract a strong African American audience. “We haven’t had that ever,” admits Amy Baker, EVP of ad sales for Lifetime, LMN and FYI.

But when it comes to attracting upscale African American viewers, Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network (in more than 83 million homes) still dominates. Realistic material has served OWN well, giving it the highest ratings in its three-year history. “Our audience responds well to the art of storytelling, whether it’s Super Soul Sunday or Tyler Perry’s drama The Haves and Have Nots. We’ve found different ways to tell stories on the network,” says Erik Logan, president of OWN.

Logan adds that Tyler Perry’s scripted series have helped the network develop momentum. His latest, the soap If Loving You Is Wrong, scored the network’s biggest launch numbers to date – 1.93 million viewers in the 9PM hour, well above the 1.77 million who tuned into the premiere of Perry’s The Haves and Have Nots in May 2013.


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM WE tv


THE SERIES THAT MADE WE tv #1 WITH WOMEN ON FRIDAY NIGHTS AMONG THE COMPETITION
WE tv’s MARRIAGE BOOT CAMP REALITY STARS 

RETURNING IN 2015 WITH AN ALL NEW CAST:
HEIDI MONTAG & SPENCER PRATT THE HILLS
AVIVA & REID DRESCHER THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK
NATALIE NUNN & JACOB PAYNE BAD GIRLS CLUB & BRIDEZILLAS
TYSON APOSTOL & RACHEL FOULGER SURVIVOR BLOOD VS. WATER
SYLEENA JOHNSON & KIWANE GARRIS R&B DIVAS
#MarriageBootCamp


Another thing OWN has going for it is the built-in star power of Oprah Winfrey. A lot of female-friendly networks are relying on high-wattage stars to attract more viewers. But again, they’re not using just any celebrities; there needs to be a genuine fit.

For example: “Roseanne Barr will host a series premiering in late November called Monsters,” says Kevin Bennett, GM of Investigation Discovery (or ID, as it’s known), a network devoted to non-fiction mystery and suspense programming, which is currently in more than 84 million homes. Bennett describes the show as “tales of moms gone horribly wrong,” and says that the project came about because Barr is a huge fan of the network’s programming.

ID’s Bennett expects Monsters to keep viewers in their seats, as many of the networks other shows’ plot twists and turns do, making the network’s C+3 retention number (52 minutes) much higher than the average of 15 minutes. “We’re #3 in all of TV,” says Bennett. “It’s like potato chips­people watch till the end of one show and then sample another.”

Another natural pairing of celebrity and network that HGTV hopes will steamroll the competition: The Jennie Garth Project, which has the actress getting down and dirty (literally) while renovating a home for her and her kids. “Many of our viewers grew up watching Beverly Hills 90210,” says Kathleen Finch, president of HGTV and DIY Network. But now they get to see Kelly Taylor swinging a sledgehammer. “The more powerful women we put on the air, the more it resonates with our viewers,” she adds.

Similarly, HGTV is launching a furniture-design competition series in 2015 called Ellen’s Design Challenge, executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres. “She pitched the show to us because of her personal passion for furniture; it’s the first time she’s ever done a cable series,” says Finch.

Lifetime is bringing star power to its movie roster. In addition to the two-night miniseries The Red Tent, starring Minnie Driver, airing December 7 and 8, the network recently announced plans to adapt the Stephen King novella Big Driver, featuring Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis and rocker Joan Jett.

For some networks, it’s home-grown stars that have attracted eyeballs and buzz. NBCU’s Bravo, home of the Real Housewives franchise, has specialized in presenting reality shows starring women, which have deeply resonated in the culture. To snag the younger female demo, NBCU has just-re-branded Oxygen to target the young, modern female.

For these networks, the mandate to keep it real also applies to brand clients. “It’s challenging to find ways to integrate advertisers into the programming,” says OWN’s Logan. “Oprah’s not going to walk out holding a Swiffer.” Still, Kathy Kayse, OWN’s EVP of ad sales, collaborates with advertisers to find appropriate opportunities. She recently worked with Whirlpool, for example, to create a vignette featuring single mom Kym Whitley of Raising Whitley doing laundry.

DIY Network provided added value to the 15 sponsors of this year’s Blog Cabin Giveaway by featuring them in on-air and online promotions. “We turn to viewers and online users to get their opinions about renovating a house­which paint colors to use, which floors to install. They want to have a voice, and it gives them an opportunity to learn about our sponsors’ products,” says DIY’s Finch.

OWN has also leveraged the power of Oprah’s other properties to give advertisers off-network exposure. In September, when OWN, Harpo Studios, O, The Oprah Magazine and WME Live, kicked off the eight-city Oprah’s The Life You Want tour and transformational weekend, sponsored by Toyota and Olay, “we found a way for Toyota to be part of the conversation without bringing a car on stage,” says Kayse.

Toyota backed a $25,000 Standing O-vation Award for a woman who made a difference in her community at each tour stop. Such creative partnerships have served the network well. “We launched with 10 major partnerships, and 9 are still with us,” says Kayse. And while the network didn’t break any new categories at this year’s upfronts, “we doubled-down on our current categories, and saw growth in service restaurants, automotive and entertainment,” she says.

OWN wasn’t the only network to report growth at this year’s upfronts. “We had 13 new advertisers come to TLC, says Sharon O’Sullivan, EVP of national ad sales for the network. O’Sullivan sites the network’s reach (it’s one of the top-10 in the marketplace) as an advantage. At ID, which O’Sullivan also oversees, she has seen enormous growth in the movie category. “Two-and-a-half years ago we had one studio on board. Now we have them all.”

WE tv has also added new advertisers to its roster, including Kia, Chrysler, Dominoes and Metro PCS, and expanded its upfront business in retail, beauty, insurance, casual dining, telecom and health, while HGTV has seen a big influx of e-commerce advertisers over the last year. “Online travel sites like Expedia are increasing their spends as well as Overstock and Wayfair,” says Jon Steinfauf, EVP, sales and marketing for Scripps Networks Interactive. He adds that brick-and-mortar retail continues to grow, as do financial services and luxury auto.

Lifetime credits Project Runway, now in its 13th season, with bringing in upscale advertisers such as Lexus, and the network has focused its efforts in recent years on enticing more automotive and financial advertisers. “We have seen growth as a result,” says Baker. Mazda, Volkswagon, Mitsubishi have all come on board, and Liberty Mutual now advertises on LMN.

The power of the purse is definitely influential when it comes to luring advertisers. But the big question remains: As women rise in the ranks, will they have time to watch their favorite programs? “Content is queen,” says Lifetime’s Donahue, “and what we’re doing is developing content that can be consumed on any platform: OTT, mobile, desktop. Women will watch when they can watch.”



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