The Date: April 23, 2008
The Venue: SoHo House, New York
Key Execs: Lauren Zalaznick, president-Bravo Media and Oxygen Media; Susan Malfa, senior VP-Bravo and Oxygen ad sales; Jason Klarman, general manager; Amy Introcaso-Davis, senior VP-programming and development
The Special Guest: NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker, who sat in on the network's first public presentation since he brought Oxygen to the NBCU portfolio in November
The Food: A bevy of protein-packed breakfast options, including cheese-baked eggs, fresh fruit and a choice of sausage or bacon
The Drinks: Fresh-squeezed orange juice and coffee
The Swag: An autographed copy of Oxygen reality star Tori Spelling's new autobiography, "Stori Telling" (signed "[heart] always, Tori Spelling XoXo" in pink pen).
The Pitch: After spending its first seven years in the shadow of Oprah Winfrey, an early investor in the network, Oxygen is finally ready for its spotlight. The latest entrant in NBC Universal's portfolio of cable networks has undergone an exhaustive re-branding, both internally and externally, and will enter this year's upfront with a completely fresh perspective. Its new target audience, dubbed "Generation O" by Ms. Zalaznick, and new brand tagline, "Live out loud," are just part of the new changes afoot for the female-targeted network.
Since its acquisition by NBCU was finalized in November, Oxygen has undergone a complete executive overhaul, with founder Gerry Laybourne, chief operating officer Lisa Gersh and programming head Debby Beece all departing the network for other roles, followed shortly by ad sales chief Mary Jeanne Cavanagh. The network's new executive structure is headed by a quartet of Bravo execs both past and present, with Ms. Zalaznick and Ms. Malfa recently adding Oxygen to their responsibilities at Bravo, digital vet Mr. Klarman signing on as general manager and "Queer Eye" exec producer Ms. Introcaso-Davis joining as the new head of programming.
|Lauren Zalaznick, president-Bravo Media and Oxygen Media, has dubbed Oxygen's new target audience "Generation O."|
With new executives comes a new approach to the Oxygen audience, which is both broadening a bit from its previous target of women 18-24 and laser-focusing on new lifestyle targets to more effectively scale ad buys for different segments of female audiences within the NBCU portfolio, which also includes top-ranked women's site iVillage. Ms. Malfa said of the new cross-network sales strategy: "It's not about a broad 18-to-49 buy, it's about, 'Do I want to reach the 34-year-old who's buying a lot?' It's about a mind-set and a lifestyle."
Key in executing that strategy will be Oxygen Everywhere, a new multiplatform content initiative Oxygen will undertake beginning with the relaunching of Oxygen.com this June with partnerships across BravoTV.com and iVillage.com. Oxygen Everywhere will also include a new mobile WAP site, expanded original content online and distribution of Oxygen programming on 186 college campuses through a partnership with NBC Everywhere, the new out-of-home media branch launched by NBCU in January. Oxygen will also be added to the content lineup on NBC's Taxi TV network in New York City, which reaches over 5 million riders a month.
The cabler had a hard time communicating its message in its previous incarnation. Mr. Klarman said prior to the new re-branding effort, most Oxygen viewers couldn't connect the network to its popular shows such as "The Bad Girls Club" and "Tori & Dean: Inn Love."
"We are zealous when it comes to branding. Everything you see on-air will be focused on this brand. We don't let go of the bone," he said.
On the programming front, Oxygen will continue to follow in the vein of its most successful reality series, "The Bad Girls Club," "The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency" and "Tori & Dean," all of which will have new seasons starting this summer, with a new show built around mid-'90s rapper Coolio. "Coolio's World" will chronicle his humorous life as a single father of four. Of note on the network's development slate is a reality competition series, "Dance Your Ass Off," a dance-off that doubles as a "Biggest Loser" contest to see who can lose the most weight through dance.
Last Year's Take: Oxygen boosted ad revenue from $102.1 million in 2006 to $136.7 million in 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
The Ratings Game: Although still a relatively small player in the overall cable landscape, Oxygen was one of the fastest-growing cable networks in 2007, scoring the highest ratings of its six-year history with "The Bad Girls Club" and "Tori & Dean: Inn Love." "Bad Girls" broke a particular milestone in February when it became the first original Oxygen series to pass the 1 million-viewer mark. The new series "Deion & Pilar: Prime Time Love" scored a decent bow last week with 579,000 viewers, 334,000 of whom were in Oxygen's core target of women 18-34.
The Digital Play: In addition to the relaunch of Oxygen.com in June, a new video player, o2.oxygen.com, will come with exclusive scenes from its reality shows, called "Oxygen's Sixth Act." Oxygen Everywhere will include rolling out Oxygen content in on-demand, mobile and out-of-home platforms, some of which will include partnerships with NBC Everywhere.