Lisa Fischer has worked at several networks where her co-workers felt like family. At UP TV and aspireTV, where she serves as Executive Vice President for National Ad Sales, that family feeling carries through to the content with which she works. The independent network celebrates families by focusing on "Life's Biggest Moments." Fischer (pictured at top) recently spoke with me about how the network is filling a void by producing positive and uplifting content and experimenting with new approaches to unscripted programming.
Kathy Newberger: Let's start with an explanation of your programming stance: "Life's Biggest Moments."
Lisa Fischer: We've been focusing on that position for quite some time. With our hit reality series Bringing Up Bates (pictured below) we saw that those moments the Bates family were sharing -- the life events, the family times, things that happen to everyday people -- were what our viewers loved, so we decided to create series that focused on those moments themselves. It's television families can watch together, whether it's about babies, weddings, or home.
We've partnered with Nielsen and NRG to do a lot of research into who our viewers are. They make television choices with their families in mind and are spread across the country, in cities, suburbs and the countryside. They're likely to be parents, and they're likely to be educated. They're just as likely to be Democrats as they are to be Republicans. They're looking for positive entertainment and a place where they can really, truly exhale. That's definitely a plus for advertisers.
Newberger: How do you describe UP's place in the television landscape?
Fischer: From an advertiser's point of view, we're a unique alternative to other entertainment networks and a complement to traditional lifestyle networks. Our commitment to uplifting programming is not a throwback to an earlier age. It's actually a very of-the-moment response to currents in our culture: the desire for more family time and shared experiences, for connection, and a strong interest in building and sharing their time at home. We're positive, relatable and fun in that richness that comes from authentic life moments.
Newberger: How is the ad community responding?
Fischer: A lot of advertisers are celebrating family and big moments in their own creative campaigns whether it's finance, insurance, food, QSR, home, retail or auto. For example, there's a Chevrolet ad in which the dealer is describing different levels of SUVs for the couple's life and saying, 'Okay, this model is for when you're single and this one is for when you guys get married and you've have stuff to haul home, and this one is for when you have kids.' It's funny, but they're really talking about the moments in life. Other brands, like Kraft with "Family Greatly" and General Mills and Allstate, are taking a similar approach ... that call for human connection and uplifting others. So, advertisers join us when we're celebrating weddings on our network, and babies and home. Whether it's in our acquired shows like Gilmore Girls, or originals like Expecting or Our Wedding Story (pictured below), they gain that halo effect against those ads that are talking to this consumer.
The growth has been tremendous over the last three years. For our Upfront this year, we're at a mature stage where we're really taking a look at the advertisers working with us, whether it's branded content, plain advertiser solutions, or just running on our network, and working more closely with them on ways to reach our viewers in even more meaningful ways. Since this audience is going through big life stages, series like Our Wedding Story and Expecting open the door to broader advertiser categories, from travel to retail to insurance companies to home goods ... anything tied to building your nest, like the online retailer that's focusing on wedding registries, or the home store focusing on the new home or the home renovation life stage.
Newberger: I found myself getting very emotionally involved watchingExpecting,your original unscripted show about families' pregnancy journeys. Can you describe the programming innovation there and what that means to advertisers?
Fischer: It is probably the show that is the most fun to talk to advertisers about because it's done so differently. It's self-shot! There are no camera crews or producers. The couples are all filming the show themselves as they go through their journeys. You get to learn their stories in a really intimate way since you see those moments you normally wouldn't get when an actual production team is there for a limited amount a time. You're there when they're looking at the pregnancy test or when there's an ice cream craving in the middle of the night. It's a different spin on the genre that lets advertisers be integrated very organically. The retention rate is really great so far -- and we're seeing some momentum there. Advertisers understand that it's really organic -- that it's truly a Life's Biggest Moment -- and we're showing how their messages can be in this kind of real content. It's powerful.
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