News

Fine Living Unveils More Original Shows

1/24/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

Newly Nielsen-rated Fine Living Network touted its growing roster of original series and acquisitions last week, including in-development shows Bartender Wars, Love Taxi, Tough Love and 20-Year Reunion.

At a “mini-upfront” in New York, FLN general manager Chad Youngblood said getting rated by Nielsen Media Research, a process that kicked off at the start of the year, was the next step in delivering on the Scripps Networks outlet's commitments to advertisers and distributors.

Since 2005, when he came on board, FLN has been among the fastest-growing networks in terms of reach, rising to about 54 million homes from 29 million. It hasn't released its initial Nielsen data yet, saying the numbers are still preliminary.

FLN made recent acquisitions of established shows including The Biggest Loser — it airs same-season episodes of the NBC weight-loss competition — and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and got extensive coverage of its new original series Whatever Martha!, featuring Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppelman Hutt mocking old Martha Stewart Living episodes.

Bob Baskerville, president of Scripps Emerging Networks (Fine Living and DIY), said FLN is sticking to its strategy of acquiring shows from “cultural icons” (Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse) to lure viewers and get them to sample the growing roster of originals.

One new original on the way is Wingman, with comic and Glamour magazine columnist Michael Somerville helping singles learn flirting and dating techniques. Wingman debuts Feb. 10.

Another original, the fashion makeover show Closet Cases! starring Lloyd Boston, will bow April 13.

FLN has a slate of 11 newly acquired or original shows with debut dates between Jan. 5 (makeover show Groomed) and May 17 (Sarah's House, with interior designer Sarah Richardson) that were already announced. It also has eight returning series with new episodes, including Wedding SOS, Molto Mario (re-runs of episodes from Scripps's Food Network) and Design Inc.

Fine Living, which launched in 2002 with ultra-upscale shows like Your Private Island, has been broadening its outlook under Youngblood. Its tagline now is “Entertainment You Can Use” and marketing materials remake the FLN initials into Fun Lifestyle Network aimed at the Fun Living Nation.

The network still targets upscale viewers (with a median household income north of $68,000) but with more of a pop-culture bent. There are several “cocktail culture” shows, for example, but they can also inspire cocktail parties at home for those more economically pinched, Youngblood said.

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