04/24/15: BET, Centric, Investigation Discovery, TLC, Discovery Family Channel and Discovery Life Channel



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

Backstage at the Upfronts: BET, Centric, Investigation Discovery, TLC, Discovery Family Channel and Discovery Life Channel.

Nighttime at Jazz at Lincoln Center is meant to inspire a sense of NYC’s cosmopolitan cool. It succeeded last night when BET presented its upfront at the theater, located in the city’s tony Time Warner building. The lush venue has stadium seating and an art deco-style lobby with white leather couches and vases of roses.


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To warm up the full house, BET had a slew of celebrities and singers on hand. Master of Ceremonies and “Mayor of BET” was Tyrese, star of mega-hit film franchise Fast and Furious – most recently, Fast and Furious 7. Looking bold and beautiful, Tyrese, a South Central native, talked up the BET Experience, which is coming to LA June 25-28. He called it “the hottest event of the summer.”

Elle Varner and Kevin Ross sang R&B to the audience before CEO Deborah Lee, President of Programming Stephen Hill and President of Broadcast Media Sales Louis Carr presented their new shows for both BET and Centric, the first net designed for black women. BET was also celebrating its 35th anniversary. The nets remained true to their tag: BET: Where Black is always the new Black.

What’s Up?
announced that BET will have its own app on the Apple Watch, coming out today.

The Pitch
“BET is where cool is created and craved. Our content lets our audience know we understand their culture and lifestyle better than anybody else. We are the only network that takes the complete, complex and comprehensive view of African American life,” said Stephen Hill.

To back that up, Louis Carr pointed out that nets in general (think Empire) seem to be getting what BET has always known African Americans are huge consumers and BET knows this population better than anyone. While advertisers are chasing millennials, Carr reminded them that a full 40% of that group is African American.

What Sets BET Apart
“Our brand is a multi-platform mega-star,” said Hill. “It’s the number one net for African Americans and there’s nobody bigger or more connected to how our audience lives, breathes and consumes. We deliver more African Americans each week than any other cable network. We consistently rank in the top 20 networks among ALL audiences and set trends worldwide, with more than 6 billion multi screen fan impressions. Centric is one of the fastest growing ad supported cable networks among women, posting double year over gains in Primetime and Total Day.”

Bad Boys, Music Execs, Models & Fame
Said Hill, “Our slate is anchored by high-quality scripted and reality shows, star-studded tent-poles and original movies that reflect and celebrate the lives of African American adults.”

Standing out is Criminals at Work, a docu-series that explores crimes and corporate espionage at the office. Or as the promo explained: “Think you know someone? You don’t! Think your workplace is safe? It isn’t!” There was lots of jittery laughs at that.

“Speaking of criminals, our next show is about the music business,” said Hill, to hoots from the crowd. The Label sounds like a one-of-a-kind series where viewers will get to see what kids from the street did to create some of the most successful record labels in the past 25 years. Among them: Death Row and Def Jam.  Executive Producer Chris Ludacris Bridges said to the audience, “The music business is called a business for a reason; 90 percent of it is business and 10 percent is art.”

The Business stars America’s Top Model Eva Marcille and friends in an unscripted show about the grit and determination needed to make it in Hollywood. Marcille came onstage looking stunning in a black top and gold gown. She said the show will have a lot of fights between friends as they try to make it, but noted that in Hollywood, “friends become family.”

Chasing Destiny spotlights Destiny Child’s Kelly Rowland as she searches for the next great girl band. Rowland, wearing a chic pink dress and mauve jacket, was introduced as a mentor and motivator. The three things she believes you need to succeed as a band? “Passion, work ethic and focus.”

Centric had its own share of celebs on hand, too. Queen Latifah, looking like royalty in a navy dress that showcased her sex appeal, is producing two new shows for the net. Curve Appeal will star her own stylist, Timothy Snell, who will teach plus-sized women how to dress to celebrate their curves. From the Bottom Up will examine the lives of women who were successful, failed hugely, and now are crawling back as hard as they can.

Real life comedy and drama is promised on According to Alex. Alex Martin Dean and her mother, Whoopi Goldberg, came on stage, slowly reading from cue cards for laughs. Martin Dean is a 3x married and divorced motherto the same man. She’s also a friend and daughter. The unscripted focuses on her relationship with her best friend Leisa, her grown children, husband, famous mom and new plans interrupted when an unexpected grandchild is announced.

Hip hop played, and the upfront presentation ended with a full on your feet performance from Ludacris.

Drinks & stuff
Two elegant bars, nuts and delicious full-length banana chips. Signature drinks were dark rum and ginger, and grapefruit-infused gin.

Just Asking…

Guilty Pleasure TV Show?
“I don’t feel guilty about anything I watch…but I love Girls,Stephen Hill.

“I’m absolutely in love with the Real Housewives franchise,” Eva Marcille, The Business.

One job you’d love to have but never will?
“Lead singer of the Jackson Five. Always wanted that,” Stephen Hill.

I would have loved to have tried a career in architectural design,” Eva Marcille.

Favorite form of social media?
“I’m an IG guy…but link it to Twitter and Facebook. Short stories with pictures,” Stephen Hill.

“Instagram is my fav. It’s by far the easiest,” Eva Marcille.

Quotable Quote:  “I’m fly, but driving over here tonight, I saw a pimple pop up on my face that was not here before getting dressed,” Tyrese.

Reported by Meredith Berlin


Only 8 Networks are…

– Top Rated
– General Entertainment
– Male Skew

And Syfy‘s audience is MORE VALUABLE than all 8 networks:
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Syfy is the Home for the sci-fi fan in All of Us
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DISCOVERY’s Investigation Discovery, TLC, Discovery Family Channel Discovery Life Channel

As Discovery Communications makes the Upfront rounds with customized presentations for agencies, Sharon O’Sullivan, Executive Vice President Ad Sales overseeing Investigation Discovery, TLC, Discovery Family Channel and Discovery Life Channel shares what’s happening behind closed doors.

What’s the pitch?
“TLC has a high value of audience, brand and content.The programming captures high engagement, which is appealing to advertisers for creative branded entertainment integrations.TLC is a strong brand and carries a passionate audience.

“Investigation Discovery is the number 3 network in W25-54 delivery (ad-supported cable rank, Total Day in 1Q15, Live+3), the number 1 cable network with the longest length of tune and ranks as the number 3 cable network with the highest C3 retention rate. ID’s brand is very clear, which is helpful in our conversations with clients.

As for Discovery Family, new to the market and facing its first Upfront, it’s all about…the family. “We’re excited,” says O’Sullivan. “The network offers a unique platform for consumers.Discovery Family showcases programming that the whole family can sit down and enjoy.”

What categories are you hoping to break?
“We are fortunate that our networks cover all categories,” says O’Sullivan. But there’s always room to build. “While meeting with clients we are seeing that automotive is an area of huge interest as new models of automobiles are hitting the marketplace. We see potential for branded entertainment within the automotive category. The film and movie category continues to expand as well, which we see as great leverage for many of our networks. The restaurant category has been a consistently growing one for us, and TLC’s style programming gives us the opportunity to increase our health and beauty business, which we’re very excited about.”

Standing Out From the Pack
“We own all of our own content, giving us the opportunity to engage with consumers on whatever platform they are viewing our content,” says O’Sullivan. “TLC’s brand is sturdy and offers authentic characters with great storytelling.With all the strong original programming the network offers and by owning our content we’re not limited as to how we can integrate clients globally.”

Client Buzz
“Our clients love the format of our Upfront this year, bringing the Upfront directly to the agencies with our tailored and customized presentations. We also are receiving high recognition regarding our emphasis on the importance of brand and video content.”

Looking Ahead
“Tent pole specials and brand defining programs are going to be our focus as well as 360 engagement across all screens,” says O’Sullivan. “At TLC, we’re offering brand defining programs and the return to key genres that advertisers and consumers want from us including style, home, babies and more families.

“At ID the focus is on expanding our roster of amazing talent with Barbara Walters, Chris Hanson and Wendy Williams along with returning talent who host hit series on the network including Paula Zahn, Tamron Hall, and Roseanne Barr. Also, ID’s entry into scripted and podcasting is enhancing for the brand and the viewers, and we’re excited about strong returning series such as Vanity Fair.”

Just Asking…
Stacy London, Host of TLC‘s Love, Lust or Run and Tamron Hall of ID’s Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall answer some quick Qs.

What’s the job you’d most like to have but never will?
Undergraduate philosophy professor
Hall: Zoologist

Can’t-miss TV show
The Blacklist – Aram is the coolest.
Hall: Tie between Game of Thrones and Walking Dead.

Go-to social media
London: Tie between Twitter and Instagram. I’m too old to understand Snapchat.

Coming up in “Backstage at the Upfronts” 

Sean “Diddy” Combs is hosting today’s Upfront event for music net REVOLT at NYC’s Gotham Hall  complete with a surprise musical guest. Get the details on new programming, partnerships and, of course, the party, in the next Backstage.

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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