WE Looks West for Viewers

May 7, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Women’s network WE is launching a dating show and has signed up a dating service to sponsor it.
“Girl Meets Cowboy,” in which a group of big-city women head out west to Idaho to compete for the affections of an American cowboy, is scheduled to premiere in October.
The show will be sponsored by Match.com, which will be integrated into the series in an unusual way: Each woman who is eliminated will win a free subscription to Match.com to continue her search for a mate. Match.com also will be featured in tune-in spots and billboards.
The show is part of WE General Manager Kim Martin’s push for original programming. She’s targeted shows in three categories: pop culture, relationships and personal style. “Obviously ‘Girl Meets Cowboy’ falls into that relationship bucket,” she said.
Ms. Martin said 40 percent of the network’s prime-time schedule now is original programming. The recent launch of “Wife, Mom, Bounty Hunter” drew the network’s second-highest ratings among women 25 to 54 for a premiere of an original show. “John Edward Cross Country,” which was recently renewed, set the record last year. Originals such as “Bridezillas” and “American Princess” are coming back and “Twister Sisters” will air later this year.
WE ranked only 49th among all ad-supported cable networks in total viewers during the first quarter. However, John Moore, senior VP and director of ideas and innovation at Match.com’s agency, Mullen Advertising, said despite its small overall ratings, WE attracted a high proportion of 25- to 54-year-olds who are college-educated and have incomes of more than $60,000. “When you look at the concentration of upscale female demos, they are extremely strong.”
Mr. Moore said Match.com, a major sponsor of TBS’ original comedy “My Boys,” sought ideas from the core networks it does business with that would stand out and were TiVo-proof. That includes the other women’s networks, Lifetime and Oxygen.
WE’s Ms. Martin and ad sales chief Arlene Manos were particularly cooperative, he said. “The business is becoming more arduous every day. It’s just so refreshing to actually have a partner that’s so easy to work with.”
For WE, original programming makes it easier to offer integrations to advertisers. It also provides material for multiplatform opportunities, Ms. Martin said. “So many young women want to see clips on the Web site or be able to see their favorite shows on their mobile phone,” she said. “The originals give us that opportunity.”
WE uses its Web site and an e-mail poll to stay in touch with women 18 to 49 about what they want to see on TV. Ms. Martin said she’s gotten suggestions on topics including show types and hosts. An online suggestion that WE air decorating shows helped convince it to acquire “Take This House and Sell It” from Canada.
Ms. Martin said WE is looking to do more shows on decorating and fashion, “but we’re trying to find the right type of shows that resonate with our audience.”


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