Spike Onto Truth About Men

Aug 16, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Sometime after “Stripperella” and before “Joe Schmo 2,” Spike TV President Albie Hecht had an idea: Maybe “the first network for men” didn’t know enough about men to know what men really wanted to watch on television.

So last March Spike TV commissioned survey groups Penn, Schoen and Berland and Insight Research to conduct a sweeping study of male attitudes-not attitudes about television but about culture, family, jobs and relationships.

The results, which the network will release Aug. 16, have been frequently used by Spike TV executives in recent months to make programming and marketing decisions.

“I really believed that there was more out there about guys which was being overlooked,” Mr. Hecht said. “And this study shows a modern man with many dimensions. We are using it as a GPS [global positioning system] on how we sell and program Spike TV.”

The study showed, for example, that men have tremendous anxiety about their work, with 68 percent saying they are “concerned about making ends meet” and 28 percent saying they are worried about losing their jobs.

So Spike TV greenlighted two workplace-related reality shows for this fall-“The Club,” about two entreprenuers re-opening a Las Vegas nightclub, and “I Hate My Job,” where competitors attempt to enter the career of their dreams.

Another question found that 56 percent of respondents would be willing to consider being a stay-at-home dad and ranked family of significant importance. Thus, Spike will air a documentary special, “True Dads,” that celebrates fatherhood. Other questions have prompted Spike-which once fashioned itself as focusing on subjects such as adult animation and video games-to put more relationship-oriented programming into development.

Another line of questioning debunked the idea that modern men are “metrosexual,” with one query showing only 4 percent of the respondents have ever had a facial.

“When we were starting this network there was all this discussion about metrosexuals,” said Director of Research David Gleason. “But even in New York and Los Angeles it’s a very small percentage of people.”

For the network, that meant eschewing sleek urban hipsters and embracing more down-to-earth types when making casting and aesthetic choices.

“It’s an important piece of our positioning-who we put in our promos and how we cast and what we are talking about in terms of specials,” Mr. Gleason said. “We don’t want specials showing off $5,000 plasma screen TVs.”