TV Land Picks Up First Reality Show

Jun 4, 2007  •  Post A Comment

TV Land, a network looking to make itself over as a home for baby boomers, has acquired off-network rights to “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
The addition of a reality show is a departure for TV Land, which has been known for its lineup of classic sitcoms and dramas. But the Viacom-owned channel has been looking to launch original reality programming and switch its focus to serving viewers in the 40- to 54-year-old demographic—an older group than most television networks court.
“In a world where there’s so many choices out there, they’re choosing different kinds of shows and different kinds of programming to entertain them, and that’s really what we’re going after,” said Larry W. Jones, president of TV Land, the 21st-ranked ad-supported cable network in terms of average viewers over the course of a day during the first quarter.
TV Land’s viewership was down among viewers 18-49 and 25-54 in 2006 and showed double-digit declines in both demos in the first quarter of 2007. In May, while the network was down again in the traditional demos, it was up 4 percent in the target 40 to 54 demographic.
“Our ratings are up in what we see as our sweet spot,” Mr. Jones said.
TV Land is aiming for those viewers in hopes that ad buyers will recognize that baby boomers are a growing population group with the biggest chunk of disposable income.
TV Land will begin airing “Home Edition” on Tuesdays at 11 beginning Aug. 7. The network will use the show to promote its Wednesday night schedule of original programs.
It will be able to strip the show in prime time beginning in September 2008.
“It’s gong to be a really nice bridge between what people expect of us and what we are beginning to offer,” said Jaclyn Cohen, senior VP of programming and acquisitions. She negotiated the deal for 160 episodes with Disney ABC Domestic Television, but declined to discuss financial details.
While most reality shows have not drawn strong ratings as reruns after a winner has been crowned or a bachelorette has been chosen, Ms. Cohen expects “Home Edition” to be different.
“This is more like a drama, with a beginning, a middle and an end. It repeats well because the stories are so satisfying and because each episode is so self-contained,” she said.
Shari Anne Brill, VP of program services at Carat said that while most reality shows don’t repeat, “Home Makeover” was more of a transformation show. Still, she said it was a “strange” acquisition for the network.
“I do not consider something less than 5 years old a classic,” she said. “Classic TV is the hits of yesterday, which were scripted series. I’ll never wax nostalgic for ‘Home Edition.'”
But TV Land’s plan to use a popular acquired show to promote original programs was the right idea, she said.
“Every network builds on acquired programming,” Ms. Brill said. “It’s your originals that define your network, not an acquired show.”
Some of TV Land’s originals will be kicking in next month, including a second season of “TV Land Confidential” and the launch of “Back to the Grind,” a program that shows actors from classic TV shows going back to work in the jobs they had on the air. In one episode, Loni Anderson works as a receptionist; in another Harry Anderson takes a seat on the bench at night court.
The network has wrapped production of its show “High School Reunion,” which brings together more than a dozen alumni from a school’s class of 1986, Mr. Jones said.
Other projects, such as one reuniting Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams from “Laverne and Shirley,” a boomer dating show and a beauty contest are still in development, he said.


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