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Reality Shows for Older Guys

5/16/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Male-targeted Spike TV is seeking more mature male viewers with a development slate of personality-driven,
work-themed non-scripted series. Senior vice president of original series Tim Duffy spoke last week to
Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead about the network’s new slate, as well as the MTV
Networks outlet’s strategy to build appeal beyond mostly 18-to-34-year-old guys.

MCN: What does Spike want to accomplish with its new
nonfi ction slate of shows?

Tim Duffy: The new slate represents the evolution of our
brand. We’ve been very successful with the younger audience
and we’re continuing to broaden ourselves out
to a wider audience beyond men 18-34, and this slate is
fully representative of that. What these shows represent
is us building and expanding on the base that we created
for the younger audience.

MCN: So these shows are expected to appeal to an
older 18-49 male demo?

TD: The key to a lot of these shows is that we’re tapping
into worlds where men are at their best — they’re kind of
heroes in their own world. We are trying to find unique
ways into the stories and into their lives. Every guy in
America has at some point wanted someone else’s job or
that bigger challenge, and I think our opportunity lies in
showing these other pieces and finding the heroic stories
within them.

MCN:Are there any shows that particularly stand out in
your mind?

TD: With The Sheriff , we’re following a guy who has legitimately
been tasked by the National Sheriff ’s Association
to come into branches of sheriff ’s departments across
the country to recreate their approach to how they
combat crime. [Host and law-enforcement expert Tony
Schiena] is a big character with global expertise. This is
an opportunity not just to do a follow doc on a sheriff ’s
department, but to go into a different sheriff ’s department
every week to see what they’re challenges they
face, and watch as Tony helps them upgrade their approach
to meeting the challenges that they’re faced with
and make them more effective in what they do.

Similarly with World’s Worst Tenants, this is a guy that
[evicts tenants] for a living. With these shows, we’re following
people that do this stuff for real; they’re experts in
these spaces and find unique ways into these spaces. For
example, there are jobs-based reality shows all over television
right now, so how does Spike tackle the job space
reality genre? We’re going to come at it through the angle
of the food. How do you sustain the appetites of men who
work in below zero temperatures or 12 hours a day as they
try to find oil in some of the worst possible conditions on
the planet? That’s what Hungry Men at Work does.

MCN: I see that you also have a couple of shows in the
antiques/auction arena with Pawn Games and Auction
in My House. You’ve done well in the category with Auction
Hunters, so do you feel you can continue to draw
more fans of the genre with these new shows?

TD: Absolutely. One of the undeniable success stories at
Spike is Auction Hunters, and it’s our belief that it works
not only because we have a great cast and it’s a great story,
but also because anytime an expert puts their hands
on an object in that show, that object comes to life and
becomes a vehicle
for understanding a
moment in history
or a moment in pop
culture.

Similarly, Auction
in My House
is the
last frontier of collectables
of amazing
objects that are
vehicles of information.
These are
objects that haven’t
made it to the pawn
shops, storage facilities
or auction
houses. They are
literally items that
are in your house
and maybe your
wife, husband or
someone in your
family has been
telling you for years
that you have too
much stuff in your closet. This is an opportunity to
make some money off of that stuff and for us to tell a
story about that stuff .

MCN: Is Spike looking to create a destination night for
its new non-fiction series?

Spike: There is definitely a long-term strategy. Our goal
particularly over the next year, and eventually over the
next few years, is to build off the success of our highest
rated shows like Auction Hunters, Repo Kings and Deadliest
Warrior
and start to put apples with apples, so to
speak. In order for us to broaden out our network, we
need to capitalize on the success of some of our existing
hit shows. We’re definitely looking at a lot of these
new shows as shows that we could pair with our existing
successes.

That’s one of the fun opportunities we have at Spike.
We have such a recognizable brand and we have some
big, successful shows on air. Once you get some successes,
the best strategy is to build off of those successes.
As the years play out, in an ideal world, we’ll be able to
develop nights that are all infotainment, for instance, or
a night that’s fi ltered out on more historical-based programming
like Deadliest Warrior.

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