GoodLife Wants Slice of Boomer Pie

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Just as Nickelodeon and MTV: Music Television became destination services for kids and young adults, respectively, GoodLife Television Network wants to distinguish itself as a video hangout for baby boomers — adults aged 38 to 55.

With that in mind, GoodLife is taking the first baby steps toward fashioning its format thusly, as a means to building up one of basic cable's least-circulated services.

Stage one of GoodLife's game plan was instituted in early May, when the Washington-based net unveiled a primetime lineup that, on the surface, looks like the offspring of TV Land. Thanks to recent library deals with Warner Bros. and other syndicators, classic 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s series such as Maverick,
The FBI
and Make Room for Daddy
highlight each night.

But there are two significant twists. Each night, GoodLife devotes its lineup to a particular genre, such as Westerns on Tuesdays or private-eye capers on Thursdays.

And, with an acknowledged tip of the hat to American Movie Classics, GoodLife will employ that network's former host, Nick Clooney, to offer background trivia and insights before and between shows.

ORIGINALS: OUT, AND IN

For now, the assortment of original series — cooking and health series, as well as coverage of flea markets and ballroom-dance competitions — that had occupied GoodLife's primetime slots over the last few years will be relocated to daytime and late-night dayparts. Over the summer, though, the channel will inject original content, beginning with news and information vignettes on baby-boomer lifestyles.

In addition, the network plans to roll out at least one signature show on issues confronting the boomer crowd, such as watching out for both their kids and parents.

Acknowledging that the first level of GoodLife's evolution into a baby-boomer destination takes pages from both the TV Land and the AMC playbooks, network president and chief operating officer Lawrence Meli said the format will finally give the service a clear, attractive demographic that cable operators will warm up to.

Before Meli — whose cable net managerial credits include stints at SportsChannel and New England Cable News — signed on last October, the channel's mix of movies and originals were aimed at everyone over the age of 35. Little had clicked over the years, and that contributed to GoodLife's subscriber base languishing at between 8 million and 10 million homes.

"The target audience was baby boomer-plus, the plus being adults 55 to 75 and beyond," Meli said. "We've now removed the plus and started positioning ourselves as the go-to net for this boomer generation.

"We're giving them classic TV they grew up with, but we also want to give them information to help them cope with key issues. Because many families of this generation have elderly parents living longer and kids going into college, there's a big financial as well as emotional strain on them, and they want guidance over what to do about that."

Millennium Digital Media senior vice president of marketing Peter Smith said he likes GoodLife's new direction. But the midsize MSO, which carries GoodLife in a few markets, is awaiting the net's new lineup of originals before committing to more digital distribution.

"Just because a TV show was No. 1 in the 50s or 60s doesn't mean someone will watch it today," he said. "There's more promise in original shows, because then you've got something that can't be found on the digital dial.

"We have a robust digital product in most of our systems, so a new network has to earn its way by offering a unique proposition for the audience."

NEWS SHOW COMING

Surviving Families
will be the first new primetime series GoodLife will launch under Meli. A mix of newsmagazine and interview segments, the program will explore Congressional and state-level public policy initiatives that affect families.

As the new primetime lineup unwinds, GoodLife's sub count is moving up. It added over 1 million homes during the first quarter, largely through digital tiers, increasing its overall universe to 12 million homes. Meli said GoodLife has affiliation agreements with all of the top 10 MSOs, including Adelphia Communications Corp.

Despite Adelphia's well-documented troubles, Meli said the MSO hasn't pulled the channel off its systems or cancelled plans to launch it elsewhere.

"They are a wild card for us and many other networks," Meli said. "For now, I'm assuming their systems will take the status quo, no matter what happens. The situation does give me moments of thought."

One area that doesn't: GoodLife's ownership ties to the controversial Unification Church. Meli declared that since he's come on board, the subject — which some industry officials privately attribute to stultifying GoodLife's growth status over the years — has been dormant.

"There hasn't been one affiliate or cable-industry meeting where that's been a concern, an issue or even a question," Meli said. "I can say without hesitation that there's no limitation on how we grow our business, and there hasn't been a request to make programming changes based on the church's goals."

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