Mr. Manu: Bravo purchased it in March of
Mr. Dumenco: So over four years now. You know,
at the time I remember fans of the site were worried about it being
ruined not only by conglomerate ownership [Bravo is a unit of NBC
Universal], but there were concerns about how TWoP would cover its
parent company's shows. But it's pretty clear that you're more than
happy to trash Bravo shows if they deserve it.
Mr. Manu: Right, and other NBC Universal shows.
It's definitely been an incredibly unique situation for me. I
previously worked at places like TV Guide, AOL Television and Sony
Online and I can honestly say I've never had this amount of
editorial freedom in any place I've worked. We've never, ever been
asked to go easy on something, to change something because it
offended somebody internally. Our editorial integrity has been
respected in ways that I never even imagined it could be.
Mr. Dumenco: So Bravo and NBC Universal leave
you alone editorially, but they don't ignore you -- because clearly
they keep reinvesting in the site. I mean, the backing from a
conglomerate has certainly been nice as you've expanded
aggressively into mobile platforms, for instance.
Mr. Manu: Yeah, exactly. Bravo has given us so
many resources in terms of being able to do all the things that
we've done over the past few years. Apps take money to develop, and
we've completely changed our publishing platform over the last
couple of years. Nothing we've done in the last few years would
have been possible without the resources afforded to us by Bravo
Mr. Dumenco: What's your audience now?
Mr. Manu: Every year since Bravo bought the
site has been the site's biggest year ever. I can email you
specific numbers later.
[Here's what Mr. Manu sent: "TWoP had its best year ever for
unique visitors in 2010, with 1.3 million average uniques per
month, an 8% increase over 2009, the site's previous best year
ever. Source: Omniture. TWoP averages 40 to 45 million pageviews
per month, with fluctuations dependent on the month/season. Source:
Omniture. TWoP users average 8 minutes per day on the site, making
TWoP's audience the most engaged among its competitor set, which
includes EW.com, TV.com, TVGuide.com, Zap2It, IMDB, E! Online, AOL
TV, Yahoo TV, Futon Critic, etc. Source: comScore.]
Mr. Dumenco:Hey, what's your personal TV
obsession right now?
Mr. Manu: Wow. I watch 50 or 60 hours a week,
so I'm not necessarily a typical user, but like a lot of people I'm
definitely entranced by HBO's "Game of Thrones." I'm following "The
Killing" on AMC. There are a ton of reality shows I watch, I'm
a huge fan of FX and I think the CW's "Vampire Diaries" is one of the best and most
underrated shows on TV. Of course, gotta have my "Gossip
Girl" every week. And "Community" and "Parks
and Recreation" are flat-out brilliant sitcoms.
Mr. Dumenco: Actually, I think "Gossip Girl" is
a pretty great sitcom, too.... OK, one last question: What show
needs to exist that doesn't yet exist? To put that question in
context, as part of Ad Age's TV Issue this week, I wrote a sort of
crystal-ball future of television, and I predicted that NBC
Universal would launch something called The Dancing with the Pregnant Teen Children of Real
Housewives Network. Since that was published, people have said
to me, basically, "That sounds entirely possible."
Mr. Manu: Yeah, I agree, and then if you throw
Mormons and ice-road truckers into that mix, then people having a
lot of babies, you might have the highest-rated network of all
time. You may want to put a copyright symbol after that one.
Mr. Dumenco: I didn't think of ice-road
truckers! And you're right, Mormons!
Mr. Manu: I feel like Mormon Ice Road Truckers
would be a great show to watch. All the wives could help drive the
trucks in the convoy and then they could maybe have dance-offs at
pitstops and things like that.
Mr. Dumenco: Yeah, definitely. And there's room
in the back of the truck for the whole family.
Mr. Manu: Exactly. You've gotta transport all
those kids somehow.
Edited and condensed from a longer interview.
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for
Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.