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Lifetime: Brand Will Give Mag Staying Power

8/04/2002 8:00 PM Eastern

When Lifetime Television earlier this summer said it plans to launch a consumer magazine next year, it wasn't the first women's television brand to extend into print.

Indeed, women's media today has become a multiplatform affair: Think Oprah Winfrey, Rosie O'Donnell and Martha Stewart.

But unlike those personality-driven media brands, Lifetime isn't saddled with possible drawbacks like being tied to human flaws or the vagaries of perception.

"It will be interesting to see what happens to Rosie
magazine once [O'Donnell] isn't on television five days a week, 52 weeks a year," said Lifetime brand executive vice president Rick Haskins. "Will it be out of sight, out of mind?"

And Haskins pondered whether the recent Securities & Exchange Commission inquiries surrounding Martha Stewart's empire could impact Martha Stewart Living.

"Lifetime is on 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and is not reliant on one personality," Haskins said. "There is a longevity issue you have to deal with."

Lifetime didn't feel pressure to expand into print from competitors in the women's media space, Haskins said.

"The only pressure was what we've put on ourselves," he said. "We wanted to do what's right for the consumer and right for the brand."

PRINT APPLICATIONS

Though cable-television brands don't always translate into print, consumer focus groups confirmed Lifetime's belief that it could.

Lifetime
magazine will share some aspects of the network — such as its commitment to women's advocacy and the occasional Intimate Portrait
biography — but each property will have its own unique personality, Haskins said.

"We don't want this to be a channel guide for the network, but a living, breathing magazine," he said.

The network plans to extend the "Our Lifetime Commitment" campaigns — such as its anti-breast cancer and anti-domestic violence initiatives — to the magazine, where topics can be covered in greater depth.

"We've found that our audience really does want to participate" in causes they feel are relevant, Haskins said. The magazine won't make women guilty when they don't participate, but just want to read, he added.

The magazine's tag line is "Real Life, Real Women." Like the network, the magazine will aim to include all women, Haskins said. And unlike some high-end women's fashion magazines, Lifetime will be less aspirational and more geared to the way most women actually live.

"If we do a story on hair and makeup, it can't take five hours to do, but would be what a mother taking her daughter to kindergarten could do on the way to work," Haskins said.

Among the cable networks that have made a successful transition to print are Nickelodeon (Nickelodeon
and Nick Jr.) and ESPN (ESPN the Magazine). All three have clearly defined brands and focused target audiences.

"What's great about Nickelodeon is it's a big and rich enough brand to allow for different properties with their own creative engines," said Nickelodeon
editor-in-chief Laura Galen said. "Just like SpongeBob
[SquarePants] and Rugrats
are two different shows, the magazine and network are very different."

The magazine was not created as a marketing tool for the children's network, but in some ways to encourage kids to spend less time watching television.

"The company thought it was a responsible thing to do to create a product based on reading," Galen said.

Nick Jr.
magazine was launched a few years ago for the preschool set and their parents.

"It was one of the first forays for Nickelodeon to talk to parents," said Nick Jr.
editor-in-chief Freddi Greenberg.

Nick Jr.
offers original content geared toward the development of early childhood learning skills and alerts parents of what their kids may be watching on the network.

"We helped pave the way from [hosts] Steve to Joe on Blue's Clues, and talked to parents about how to help their kids make the adjustment," Greenberg said.

National Geographic Channel has gone against the trend, taking a successful print brand and transforming it into a full-time television network.

NGC president Laureen Ong admitted there's close collaboration between National Geographic
magazine and the network, which share a corporate campus in Washington.

The network's news show, National Geographic Today, hosts a "wall walk" of the print publication each month to serve as a teaser for the magazine. The network also borrows photos from National Geographic, and its photographers appear on air from time to time.

Advertisers who take advantage of cross-platform advertising appreciate that they're buying the same brand, whether it's television or print, Ong said.

FINE PARTNERS

Fine Living decided to partner with established brands from the print world to help create content for the startup diginet.

Food & Wine
developed a one-hour special on the Napa Valley, and Road & Track
created a series on automobiles. Most recently, Fine Living signed with The Wall Street Journal to develop programming based on its relatively new weekend Lifestyle section.

"In each case, the partner had a strong editorial voice," said Fine Living senior vice president of business operations and acquisitions John McDonald.

"Most people think it's easy to translate from print to video and vice versa, but experience shows it's elusive," McDonald added.

Fine Living benefits from the partnership by gaining access to "vast editorial staffs we couldn't possibly replicate at our early stage," McDonald noted.

The print partners also have a chance to help define the personality of the nascent network, he added.

"The earlier you get involved, the greater influence you'll have on that brand's direction," McDonald said. "The early partners we've taken on will have a direct influence on the positioning of the Fine Living brand."

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