In a time when the doom and gloom of 24-hour looped news cycles can send viewers into a tail-spin of depression, thank goodness we have programming alternatives like UPtv. For the past ten years, the network, together with sister network Aspiretv and streaming service UP Faith & Family, have been go-to destinations for uplifting entertainment (hence the name). In recent years the network has expanded upon its acquired programming slate, moving into the original series & movie market. Thanks to a newly cemented partnership with Larry Levinson Productions (LLP), UPtv is thrilled their already proven brand will continue to thrive. "The partnership was just an obvious fit, and if this was one of our romance movies, we'd be asking, "What took us so long to find each other?" laughed Libby Beers, Senior Vice President, Original Programming at LLP, in an exclusive MediaVillage interview. "It's a mutually complementary culture; the partnership provides them with an infusion of proven content that's completely compatible with our production." Both companies are all about being positive and committed to entertaining while lifting your spirits.
"They all have a happily ever after," she continued. "UP Entertainment has amazing brands and they all fit into the culture of the types of movies we have been making. It's the perfect marriage, almost like a blended family where we all share the same values." The partnership was no happy accident. According to UPtv research, viewers want a romantic experience when tuning in, and that's something Beers is delighted to deliver. "We have 30 scripts ready to go for 2020/21, once the current [pandemic shutdown] is over " she shared. "All twentysomething romances developed in house, and all feel-good. The stories we have will attract a broad spectrum of women of all ages and our movies have something for everyone - - family-friendly, good values, that are entertaining and fun. It all fits well into UPtv's other programming.
"Luckily we weren't caught in the 'in production mode'," she added. "The advantage we'll have going back after all of this is that we have our own studio system in Hollywood, so there won't be a mad scramble going back into production. Our goal is to stay on schedule in terms of generating these movies. The scripts are ready and can be shot simultaneously. We will do whatever we need to get the volume out, and I believe that's still the plan."
With planned story back-drops centering on young urban professionals working as high school teachers, tech company entrepreneurs, wedding planners, investment bankers, journalists, that all-important relatability factor will be high. It's one of the important ingredients of UPtv's winning formula. "Grappling with love in complicated times is something a lot of us do," said Beers. "We portray dilemmas that have to be overcome so the audience can enjoy them. From dating apps to chance encounters, to friends who might fix them up, we look at all the different ways people meet and the fun problems that might ensue."
In addition to promising a "feature quality" movie experience to viewers, casting is also an important factor. "We like using recognizable faces who are often on ensemble TV shows and we are committed to diversity." revealed Beers. "The actors are thrilled because they get to play a romantic lead and it's something they can sink their teeth into."
All of this provides a natural environment for brand integration and advertisers. "If product placement works within a story, advertisers can showcase a product or a sponsorship, so it's a great match," she explained. "We're targeting a very specific group of viewers, and in a very short time with ratings, pre-COVID-19, we saw that 42% of the 18-50-year-old core movie viewers were new. Post COVID-19 it's now at 52%, so we have new viewers and with advertising, great commitment. Our new content really lends itself well to their messaging."
As networks scramble to deal with cancelled Upfront presentations due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Beers tells me UPtv has an innovative pack-up plan. "We're doing virtual Upfront presentations with some fun ways to present the movies," she admitted. "There's a trade only sweepstakes (UPtv Live Like A Star Sweepstakes) with the Grand Prize winner and guest receiving a trip to Beverly Hills and a walk-on role in one of our upcoming movies." While the Christmas season seems light-years away for most of us right now, it's never far for the network that has long been a Christmas destination. "There's over 600 hours of Christmas programming," said Beers. "It will have an early start to get everyone in the Christmas spirit because people need it this year more than ever. In addition to the daily movie, every Sunday there will be a premiere. I know UP has completed premiere movies in the pipeline and a batch of new ones slated for production.
"There's never been a better time to watch something that makes you feel upbeat," she offered in closing. "Staying positive is an ongoing issue in our culture. Hopefully, someone in the mood for a good movie makes UPtv their destination. We're really excited about the emerging new projects, which are some of the best we've done."
Click the social buttons to share this story with colleagues and friends.
The opinions expressed here are the author's views and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com/MyersBizNet.