Sheraton Kalouria on DVDs and How Barilla Pasta Sent Martha to Italy

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NEW YORK ( -- Before taking the helm at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia TV in November, Sheraton Kalouria spent eight years in NBC's daytime division. For last five, he was senior VP of daytime programming, overseeing the network's two soaps. During his tenure, NBC went from third to first for women 18- to 49-years-old and remained there for four years. At MSLO he's charged with developing new programs as well as managing inventory from Ms. Stewart's older shows.

Sheraton Kalouria

MediaWorks: What did you tackle first in your new job?
Sheraton Kalouria: We had a companywide meeting in which I presented five top goals. Goals one through five were the 'Martha' show. I said that to make a point for the company. We have this wonderful privilege of being every day in 95% of U.S. households. We have our brand -- Martha's unique take on domestic arts -- front and center and there's a responsibility that comes with that. ... We've already made an adjustment in focusing on segments that have the broadest appeal. In November we ran '30 Things Everyone Should Know,' from making a bed to making great French toast or perfect rice. It was a very successful series measured in ratings and in improved performance in 18-34 and 18-49. Our key demos are 18-49 and 25-54 but older people were first to welcome Martha back. To increase our ratings we needed to dip a little younger.

MediaWorks: What's your plan to manage the hundreds of hours of "Martha" you have in your archives?
Mr. Kalouria: Well it's already manifested itself through a robust DVD business, in which we're in essence creating a new category in terms of how-to information. Our most recent release, focused on baking, has been the most successful of individual titles. Why are we the first to create that how-to DVD sales category? The shorthand response is Martha was first in lifestyle category on TV. In intervening years, cable networks have originated and are producing that content. But we also have the depth and breadth of categories. Living isn't limited to cooking. The menu format that people know from entertainment DVDs make it easily accessible.

MediaWorks: Where do you stand on digital distribution?
Mr. Kalouria: We're defining what our digital video strategy will be and exploring a host of production opportunities that will bring original content for distribution through the Internet at If we have a recipe for a great herbed chicken and have video to support it from 'Martha Stewart Living,' we hope in short order to make it both accessible and very easy for the user. I give credit to Holly Brown, who's consulting in the Internet space. ... In terms of [video on demand], we're in the exploration stage.

MediaWorks: Are we going to see more shows developed around Martha's cadre of experts?
Mr. Kalouria: That's a unique competitive advantage for this company. It's a company mission to bring the expertise that exists within this company forward and deliver the best info to consumers. We've already tapped into expert base. We do kids segments on 'Martha' with our Kids magazine editors. The editor of Weddings magazine was a co-host on our first weddings edition and we have another weddings edition [on 'Martha'] coming up in January. Martha wants to be surrounded by the best. ... Would we create a show around one of them? If we find a robust idea with an in-house expert, absolutely. It's a great formula for us and the foundation of our planning. But we're not limited to that. Marc Morrone [of 'Petkeeping with Marc Morrone'] was somebody who wasn't an employee of MSLO but Martha discovered him, got to know him and created a show around him.

MediaWorks: Are you open to more brand integration in 'Martha'?
Mr. Kalouria: Advertisers have been very receptive to this show. They love the environment, there are never any content concerns. This is the most successful show launch since "Dr. Phil." And we've been absolutely open to integration. We just did a deal with Barilla pasta where the show gained access to Torino and we wanted to do a remote in Italy where Martha would experience Italy because we know there will be great interest. We needed a sponsor to help us underwrite that. Liz Koman beat the bushes, was looking for the right kind of synergistic brand partner. And Barilla was at top of list and they're going to underwrite that trip with a production fee. As a result there'll be some in-show integration. Martha will prepare a pasta dish using Barilla pasta. It's a win all the way around -- that's a gold-standard model. We've got an ongoing contest with General Electric where we're doing a GE dream kitchen makeover. We'll announce a winner in February. There are GE appliances on set of Martha show. I believe we share the same goals advertisers have when they seek integration. They're looking for ways in which the role the product plays in a consumer's life is brought to life. The viewer is learning something rather than merely being marketed to.

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