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Squawk Box: Lifestyle TV

Thanks to the abundance of lifestyle shows flooding the airwaves, viewers can learn to whip up a killer soufflé or match picture frames to candle arrangements. However, producers shouldn't assume that channel surfers will watch any old show. While the genre has been a staple in the cable world for over a decade, Robb Weller of North Hollywood, California-based Weller/Grossman Productions says, 'Viewers are growing slightly weary of the same old blocks of lifestyle programs. What has and will continue to break shows out of the pack is the personality or host, but they truly must bring a great deal to the party. They need depth of subject, some type of national recognition, or an outrageous ability to connect.'
June 1, 2006

Thanks to the abundance of lifestyle shows flooding the airwaves, viewers can learn to whip up a killer soufflé or match picture frames to candle arrangements. However, producers shouldn’t assume that channel surfers will watch any old show. While the genre has been a staple in the cable world for over a decade, Robb Weller of North Hollywood, California-based Weller/Grossman Productions says, ‘Viewers are growing slightly weary of the same old blocks of lifestyle programs. What has and will continue to break shows out of the pack is the personality or host, but they truly must bring a great deal to the party. They need depth of subject, some type of national recognition, or an outrageous ability to connect.’

Cineflix International Distribution MD Paul Heaney says ‘Certain subgenres within lifestyle are hitting the wall. You face a lot of competition domestically, so you have to step it up – maybe with higher production values or by offering more of an international perspective. You have to be able to combat those domestic shows.

‘There’s a lot of property out there, but there’s still demand. Some places are sick to the back teeth of it, other places can’t get enough. In Scandinavia and Benelux, there’s an appetite. In Australia, we’ve seen a lot of property because, as a territory, they chew genres up and spit them out quickly. Germany has a thriving local production sector, and you can find you’re up against someone making something similar. France is a tougher country to sell lifestyle into; it has specific needs, so you’re probably best linking up with a local prodco.

‘The US is still very much in love with the UK lifestyle productions. You have to hit on the successful, simple concepts, and it has to be something that can be made into other language versions. For big, international concepts to work, they have to have a global reach.’

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