Free ContentFor Members Only
Home > JackMyersThinkTank > Upfront Update: Stepping Up To Style and BET - Simon Applebaum

Upfront Update: Stepping Up To Style and BET - Simon Applebaum

April 23, 2012

Published: April 23, 2012 at 07:45 PM GMT
Last Updated: April 23, 2012 at 07:45 PM GMT

Style and BET divided up the upfront action in New York last Wednesday. Here's your combo recap and review of both presentations.


Venue: Great choice to give attendees of this breakfast event somewhere that matches the channel's stylish aspirations--Diane Von Furstenberg's showroom on Wes 14th Street, near the Style+Networkpopular High Line above-ground walkway connecting Tribeca with midtown. Clothes to oogle over by the dozen and purple flowers greeted the guests (mostly press), who were let into a side room with posters of the network's current series. Personalities from Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tamara Mowry-Housley to Bill Rancic sat with the crowd, and everyone feasted on a breakfast highlighted by spicy potato slices and chicken sausage. Grade: 4.5 Jacks

Presentation: Mostly on point about two points--Style is in makeover mode, and from here on, the network will premiere original series that, in president Salaam Coleman Smith's words, showcase "a celebration of women's collective beauty." The makeover includes a new on-air look and logo, plus "work it, live it," as the tag line, starting this summer. Smith let the original series and state-of-channel clips do most of the talking, as did original programming senior vice president Sarah Weidman. Grade: 4 Jacks

News: Five series will launch before the end of 2012, and as many as six more series now under development may join them. Of the five newbies, the biggest crowd buzz went for Chicagolicious, a Jerseylicious offshoot catching the action at noted stylist AJ Johnson's salon in the Windy City, and Empire Girls, a reality hour pairing Cheetah Girls co-star Adrienne Bailon and former 106 & Park personality Julissa Bermudez, out to land further showbiz fame in New York. Top fashion designer Betsey Johnson and daughter Lulu will be featured in another new series, coming from the Magical Elves assembly line behind Project Runway and Top Chef. So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley and Kimora Lee Simmons have separate series in development. You also might bet on Built, where male models in Manhattan do home remodeling, and Pop Style, a weekly roundup of fashion and culture trends, showing up at some point. Grade: 4.5 Jacks

Host: Smith kept the presentation lively and easy to follow. Grade: 4.5 Jacks

Overall Grade: 4.5 Jacks All elements of this event worked, and you came away with clarity about where Style wants to take its content in the coming year. Be fun to see how high-profile this member of NBC Universal's family of nets ends up next spring.


Venue: Hard to believe we're more than two months into this cycle and just now we have the flexible Best Buy (earlier Nokia) Theater near the corner of West 44th Street and Broadway as a BET+logohost site. (Come to think of it, why no events so far at stately Gotham Hall down Broadway? Had 2-3 by this time last year, Oxygen among them.) Plenty of seating room, every seat good to see a stage with graphics detailing BET's stature as #1 among its African-American target audience, and a flush of green all over. Thumbs down for being skimpy on the pre-presentation food. Grade: 3.5 Jacks

Presentation: Remember Univision's opening video from last year using words and graphics to detail the scope and buying power of Latinos across the nation? Made such an impact on the audience, Univision went on to play the video on YouTube and get thousands of views there. BET should consider the same course for its "It's not your imagination..." tape, equally as eye-catching and powerful. That was the first of numerous memorable moments running throughout this showcase for BET and sister network Centric. Among them: CEO Debra Lee's off-the-cuff tribute to Dick Clark, only a few hours after the news of his death broke, acknowledging him for what American Bandstand did to showcase African-American performers on TV; Cedric The Entertainer speaking up in the same manner for Soul Train creator/host/producer Don Cornelius; a knockout solo song from Luke James; Tony Rock (Chris' brother)'s quick shout-out for his new Centric series Apollo Live--"Looking forward to the talent on this show. Looking forward to the lack of talent on this show."--and the closing number from singer/rapper B.O.B. Grade: 5 Jacks

Special Mention:

When it comes to advocacy for a channel's ad sales, few do it consistently at an upfront show with panache, guts and feistiness as BET ad sales president Louis Carr. His "Twilight Zone" combo satire/throw down of ad industry attitudes toward networks reaching people of color was an instant classic several years ago. Dapper and daring as ever, Carr outdid himself with an extended pitch for deep ad commitments. In the process, he called out networks that are doing, or have announced, reality series featuring African-Americans, with the screen behind him naming names, including Bravo and TLC. "They want to be wanna-bes...they want a piece of the A-A audience, but they don't want to make a commitment (except for) scripted reality of shock and awe," Carr declared. Shortly after, he made a double point out of this statistic: 81 percent of all A-As going to movies last year saw films with no black cast, storyline or lead character. The double point: that audience made a huge contribution to the success of those movies, in spite of the lack of diversity, which Carr expressed outrage over. "You all should be throwing money at this stage," he said to applause. "We are mega-consumers. We are trendsetters, product-talkers. We make a difference on the bottom line." No one, repeat, no one knows how to shock and awe the advertiser community, whether prisoners get taken along the way or not, like Carr. He's so ready for primetime as well, so when will BET or someone give him airtime? Grade: 5-plus Jacks

News: Scripted series will get more of BET's evening schedule in the year ahead, starting with two comedies that promise to split sides: Second Generation Wayans, an Entourage-like program featuring the next gen of Keenan Ivory Wayans' family, and House Husbands, a sketch anthology from Kevin Hart based on the Real Housewives parody presented on last summer's BET Awards special. The bigger news is that BET will finally get an original hour drama on its lineup, with Gabrielle Union starring in Being Mary Jane (from The Game creator Mara Brock Akil). The cast includes Richard Roundtree, Margaret Avery and Lisa Vidal, and will debut first as a two-hour pilot inside a new Premiere Cinema mix of made-for originals, film festival features and independent films. Gun Hill, a drama pilot from New York Undercover co-creator Reggie Rock Bythewood, will get a Premiere Cinema tryout as well. Other new series include late-night entry Don't Sleep with former CNN anchor T.J. Holmes, and The Mathis Project, bringing Judge Greg Mathis together with neighborhood volunteers and police to solve homicides Grade: 5 Jacks

Host: Lee shared the assignment with Carr and programming executives Loretha Jones and Stephen Hill. All were smooth and entertaining. Grade: 4 Jacks

Overall Grade: 4.5 Jacks Solid mix of pitch, programming news and entertainment, with Carr's commentary adding extra spice.

5 Jacks - Excellent
4 Jacks - Very Good
3 Jacks - Good
2 Jacks - Fair
1 Jack - Poor
0 Jacks -Worse than bad

Observation from the passing upfront parade:

***Hulu opened the two-week parade of NewFronts last Thursday, drawing a capacity audience at The Times Center auditorium. Considerably more advertising people and journalists (including this one) were turned away from attending beforehand, demonstrating the interest level in Hulu and the other Web/smart TV content providers doing NewFront events this week and next. Three new series were introduced: Richard Linklater-produced travelogue Up To Speed (coming this summer), dramedy We Got Next (pick-up basketball players face life on and off-court) and animated superhero spoof The Awesomes, created by Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers. Development projects include Don't Quit Your Daydream and Flow. We'll get to as many of these NewFront events as possible and share the proceedings in future columns.

***About 400 Android application developers entered the interactive TV world this past weekend via Google TV's first-ever hackathons in Silicon Valley and London. Hackathons have flourished the last two years as gathering points for people to fire up their imaginations and create new Web sites, mobile phone and tablet services. Now we've got hackathons with a TV focus. What will get created out of this weekend that you'll find and use on your set? Will Google TV do more of these events and invite the TV industry to participate, and will others follow Google's lead in running similar ventures? All questions everyone involved in the next generation of TV should pay attention to, and help generate answers.

Next up: Ovation and BBC America

Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!

Simon Applebaum is producer/host of Tomorrow Will Be Televised, the weekly Internet-distributed radio program covering the TV scene. Simon cal be reached at simonapple04@yahoo.com.

Read all Simon’s MediaBizBloggers commentaries at Tomorrow Will Be Televised.

Check us out on Facebook at MediaBizBloggers.com
Follow our Twitter updates @MediaBizBlogger

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaBizBloggers.com management or associated bloggers. MediaBizBloggers is an open thought leadership platform and readers may share their comments and opinions in response to all commentaries.

add this social bookmark link

Post a Comment

Commentary Archives

September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014

See all Archived Material


Navigating the eSports Sponsorship Market
The eSports phenomenon has taken flight -- and its sponsorship marketplace is beginning to take shape.

Nature vs. Nurture: Sales Traits You Can Learn – Part 3
In the previous installments of this series, we discussed how the sales traits of being persistent and goal oriented can be taught. Well, now let’s get into how any seller can become organized.

DMTraining -- October 2015 Tips of the Week
Organize your connections.

Podcast: Jack Myers on "Between Worlds" with Mike Walsh
It’s not simply change that the media and advertising industry is going through, but a metamorphosis that could profoundly alter the industry’s landscape in the coming years, according to media ecologist Jack Myers. In the podcast below, Myers sits down with futurist and author Mike Walsh to discuss the future of media, the rise of emotion tech, and his upcoming book, The Future of Men: Masculinity in the Twenty-First Century.

Virtual Reality is Coming Directly to Your Living Room
This week on Mindshare’s Culture Vulture Live, Tiffany Winter discusses some big moves for content players in the world of virtual reality.

Adblockalypse and More: Top 10 Takeaways from Advertising Week 2015
Another year, another Advertising Week, that seminal time when the industry descends upon Times Square to mingle, make connections and learn a little. Being relatively new to it, we had a lot to learn. For example, bring an external charger since outlets are few and far between. Also, do not purchase an iced coffee before going into the Times Center’s beverage-free main stage (or at least be stealthy about it). Below we share our Top 10 observations from Advertising Week 2015.

A Smart Way to Out-Block Ad Blocking
Enough was enough for the Interactive Advertising Bureau last week over the matter of ad blocking among Internet sites. They actually disrupted their own contribution to Advertising Week, attended by more than 1,300 people, to bring this matter to, in IAB's instance, a long-overdue head.

Access Confidential’s New Business Know-How
Whether you’re pitching new business or retaining current business, Lisa Colantuono’s tips below offer an easy-to-follow guide applicable for both agencies and media companies alike.

An Inside Tip for Higher Organic Reach on Facebook
If a company posts on Facebook without paid media, does anyone ever see it? More and more, we are finding that less and less people do. While this fact remains true, our analysts have discovered an upside to increasing organic reach. Unfortunately, you still need to buy Facebook media but it appears that Facebook is following Larry Page’s mantra of “Always deliver more than expected.”

Connecting with Mom: How YouTube Helps in Moments of Need
“YouTube reaches not only more 18-34 and but also 25-44 year-old females than any cable network in the U.S. on both desktop and mobile” according to an analysis Google had commissioned from Nielsen in February 2015. This finding added to our ongoing hunch that YouTube has become a destination for females out beyond just Millennials. As such, we had thought, “YouTube is becoming a core part of many moms’ daily routines and is positively impacting their lives.” So we decided to dig a little deeper and set out on a year-long research program to understand the role YouTube plays in the ever-evolving life of the modern mom. In this post, I will try to give you the topline.

Not Your Father’s Tune-In -- Part 4
This continues our multi-part series about the new tune-in advertising, whose rating effects are now generally being measured to varying degrees by all players, using Nielsen itself in some cases, and especially using set top box data where the statistical significance of the findings leads to greater confidence in acting on the results.

2015 –The Last Big Year for Fossil Fuel Use!
2015 will turn out to be the peak year of fossil fuel use. By 2020 it will be clear that the decline in consumption of fossil fuels began this year. It therefore will be the first year of flat to down fossil fuel emissions. This is a very significant event: The beginning of the end of the fossil fuel energy era.

You Can Skip This Ad in 5, 4, 3 …
How pathetic that we create a product we know to be so loathsome that if people could avoid it, they would. But, if we can just hold them hostage for the minimum amount of time for which a client can be convinced to pay, we consider our jobs done, and sadly, done well. And, while we spend our days convincing clients to spend money on a product no one much wants, we spend our nights avoiding that very same product.

Katy Loria of Screenvision on Changing Careers, Working Moms and More
Katy Loria, Executive Vice President, Chief Revenue Officer at Screenvision, made a huge career transition from television and digital at Viacom in Chicago to cinema advertising at Screenvision in New York. She says that “after so many years at Viacom, which was a wonderful place to work, I wanted a change of pace. I went from big company to small company, from public company to private company and from consumer facing brand to non-consumer facing. For me it was a new and different challenge.”

The Beverly Billionaires, Or How to Make Podcasts Profitable
Take a good look at the photo above. Through the 1970's those four faces drove about a billion dollars to CBS and producer Mark Goodson. They were the original stars of “The Match Game.” From 1973-1982 they dominated daytime TV ratings and profits. Same scenery year to year. Incredibly small prizes. Absolutely no challenging Q&As.

Click Here for Membership Information