TLC Strategic Opportunities - December 2008



New GM/President, Eileen O'Neill, is starting to make her mark on TLC.  She's hired Nancy Daniels as SVP, Production and Development in LA and will be rebuilding the Scheduling, Research and Marketing team in Silver Spring.


Like all Discovery networks, the bulk of the TLC schedule is not only original programming, it is independently produced original programming!  They do many co-pro deals with BBC and other large entities, but they still take pitches from indies all the time.  Starting point is the e-submission, but they will take meetings at markets, if approached properly by email ahead of time.


Very little acquired programming on the network, but it happens:  DAVID BLAINE  is a notable example (it plays every Quarter or so), and they buy re-tooled network news programs all the time (as in DATELINE:  REAL LIFE MYSTERIES and the returning 48 HOURS).  Don't discount their use of off-Discovery Health programs such as DR. G and JON & KATE + 8 ... so keep this "two-fer" in mind if you're a producer.  It's even more important for the company as a whole ... they want programming that can play across more than one network.


Start with the website: Make a tape of talent or a complicated concept; they accept paper treatment.


Eileen O'Neill takes over and will inevitably bring the scheduling/strategy function back to Silver Spring.  Look for big changes in staffing and the direction that development takes.  This should be a big opportunity to cultivate new producers and ideas in rebuilding TLC.

Female is where they are and where they're going.  Most of the listings on our In Development page attest to that.  Scheduling is getting more consistent.  Edging toward overuse of JON & KATE and LITTLE PEOPLE, but it's confined to Monday and Wednesday.  But when they both are all the Top 20 telecasts of the month, ya gotta watch out.

What to pitch?  Still not sure. As one of our CABLEready clients says, "I'm pitching everyone everything these days!"

Well, sometimes, it's true:  Ya Never Know.  MISS AMERICA is sure an example of that.  But still, those kinds of moves are bold, but few and far between.  It's the regular series that still carry the day ... whether you're TLC or CBS.

TLC is doing three key things:  1) upping development;  2) aiming straight at the women demo (with the exception of TURBO Thursday, but we bet that'll ride off into the sunset soon enough) and 3), more consistent scheduling.   It will take all three, plus a sizable dose of off-air advertising and PR to make it all work together ... but that's pretty much how you'd have to do it anyway ... and TLC knows that.

It's the new development and Fall 2008 programs that give you the best sense of their direction...reality, and celebrity driven at that.  J-Lo, Kelly and Mark were the stars at the Upfront last month.  Design is still in there, and they claim they want more of the extreme family thing, but we'd guess the celebs are a key factor (that's Hollywood talkin").  Crime?  It still works, but other than the current DATELINE and 48 HOURS, we don't see anything new for the future.


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