A Place for the Spunky Gals

Nov 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Nine years ago, when The WB recruited Jordan Levin to its founding programming team, the nascent broadcast network hadn’t yet developed what would become its winning strategy-targeting young females. Mr. Levin (along with then-programming colleagues Garth Ancier and Suzanne Daniels) recognized the opportunity. In subsequent seasons, The WB had the women-skewing signature shows that gave it traction, such as “Savannah,” “7th Heaven,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dawson’s Creek.”
The WB also got behind shows that portrayed young women in ways not seen much on television-spunky and smart. Mr. Levin said it was his pending fatherhood (he is now the father of two daughters and a son) that got him pondering his responsibility to show positive female images on screen. Then he read “Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls” by Mary Pipher, a popular book whose thesis was that the media didn’t reflect girls’ interior lives or serve their emotional needs.
Mr. Levin’s consciousness was raised.
“We started to create a core set of values for our characters and our shows, in which women were empowered, intelligent and made pro-active choices,” he said. Mr. Levin also banished gender stereotypes (that’s why Mary on “7th Heaven” is an athlete).
At 36, Mr. Levin, the longtime entertainment president recently elevated to co-CEO, is close in age to his network’s youthful audience. While his age might help his insight into his audience a bit, Mr. Levin credits his golden gut to the influence of his upbringing in heartland Texas.
The WB keeps clicking with young women. Season-to-date, it has the top five dramas with female teens (12 to 17): “7th Heaven,” “Everwood,” “Gilmore Girls,” “One Tree Hill” and “Charmed.” “7th Heaven” remains the No. 1 show with female teens 12 to 17; in females ages 12 to 34, it ranks 12th. Several WB shows also have strong adult-female appeal. Season-to-date, through five weeks, “7th Heaven” ranks 12th on TV among women 18 to 34, and “Smallville” is No. 16 in adults 18 to 34, according to Nielsen Media Research figures provided by The WB.%
Jordan Levin
Job title: Co-CEO, The WB
Date of birth: Aug. 30, 1967
Place of birth: Chicago
Duration in job: 1 month
Why him? Mr. Levin developed the programs aimed at young women that became the foundation of The WB’s winning business strategy.