/// E! Hits Upfront With Rebranding

April 30, 2012  |  Media Week

How excited is E!? It’s so amped, it’s actually merging with the exclamation mark. The cable network is set to unveil a full-blown rebrand today (April 30) at its first-ever New York upfront party, where it’s celebrating a new-ish identity as a part of Bonnie Hammer’s NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment group by unveiling an upgraded brand identity and several new series. First and foremost, there’s the Nigel Lythgoe-produced Opening Act , a sort of anti-competition series in which Lythgoe (of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance fame) and his network of recording industry pals seek out promising amateur performers on the Web and surprise them with a chance to open for names like Nicki Minaj (and some even bigger acts are rumored). “[In other competition shows] the nerves are usually on the performers,” said E! president Suzanne Kolb. “Now the nerves are all on us because we’re hoping these people are really good. We’re hoping it’ll be closer to reality.” There are other high-profile names on the slate, too. Married to Jonas follows Jonas brother Kevin and his new wife Dani as the pair deals with celeb/Muggle intermarriage. And there’s Love You, Mean It With Whitney Cummings , a show that adds the omnipresent Cummings to E!’s lineup of comedians—her 2 Broke Girls on CBS was picked up for a second season in March. Despite a preponderance of celebrity-centric content , though (the Kardashians are still going strong on the network), Kolb said firmly that E! is “not a lifestyle network,” at least not in the same way that term is defined at the other half of the NBCU cable group, Entertainment & Digital Networks (E&D). The two divisions are totally separate, and while E&D’s Style and Bravo may have similar investments, E!’s new branding declares it a “pop culture” network, with a heavier emphasis on the moment’s trends. “Oftentimes when you say ‘lifestyle’ it can feel synonymous with ‘female,’ and we really do target and reach men and women,” Kolb said. Statistics are less emphatic—E!’s Nielsen stats were about 74 percent female in Q1 (and Kolb said there probably won’t be many male-only series on E!)—but the network wants to position shows across the gender gap. It’s a good time for a rebrand for the network, which saw some slowdown in Q1 of 2012. (E! still ranks 19 and 17 in 18-34-year-old viewers in prime time and total day respectively.) With distribution reaching nearly 100 million households, raised awareness from a new marketing push could bring some ratings gains. The goal, clearly, is to bring E! into line with some of Hammer’s other properties, namely USA and Syfy—which recently had an unusually successful rebrand under Hammer and network president Dave Howe

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E! Hits Upfront With Rebranding

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