Key execs: Lifetime has a new president in Betty Cohen and programming head in WB vet Suzanne Daniels; Lynn Picard heads ad sales and interactive media. Lisa Gersh is chief operating officer and head of ad sales at Gerry Laybourne's Oxygen. WE has a new network head in Kim Martin, and Soapnet now has a dedicated sales team under Heidi Lobel, exec VP-sales for ABC daytime.
The ratings game: From 2004 to 2005, Lifetime grew women 18-to-49 8% to 580,000 viewers. In the same time period and demo, Soapnet was up 12% to 127,000, Oxygen was up 32% to 79,000, and WE was up 9% to 47,000.*
What to expect: A new look from Lifetime as the network tries to age down. It will launch three drama series and a comedy created by Eric McCormack of "Will & Grace." Oxygen's cheeky streak continues with "The Janice Dickinson Project" and a second "Mo'Nique's F.A.T. Chance," a full-figured beauty contest. WE will return with "Bridezillas" and "American Princess," and Soapnet rebroadcasts daytime shows during prime.
Last year's upfront: Fully distributed Lifetime snared low-single digit increases in line with the rest of the cable market. The others owe their double-digit volume increases largely to better distribution and ratings.
Buyer's verdict: Women's nets benefit by selling less waste. "They're pure female," said Gary Carr, senior VP-director of broadcast, TargetCast, New York. "Lifetime's the big dog, but their programming skews middle American, more downscale." The others are easy to buy and inexpensive but to make them a must-buy they need to find that one hit program, Mr. Carr said, much like Bravo found "Queer Eye."
*Nielsen Media Research, prime-time ratings