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SQUAWK box: Perpetual reinvention

With audiences, and trends in general, changing so dramatically, programming that does well one month 'is no longer popular literally three or four months later,' says Travel + Escape channel president Paul Lewis. 'So what you're seeing is that channels, rather than reinventing themselves every 10 or 15 years, actually have to reinvent and refocus themselves at least annually.' In his channel's case - a Canadian venue known as CTV Travel until recently -
November 1, 2006

With audiences, and trends in general, changing so dramatically, programming that does well one month ‘is no longer popular literally three or four months later,’ says Travel + Escape channel president Paul Lewis. ‘So what you’re seeing is that channels, rather than reinventing themselves every 10 or 15 years, actually have to reinvent and refocus themselves at least annually.’ In his channel’s case – a Canadian venue known as CTV Travel until recently – he finds the current trend leans towards more escapist, adventure-based travel, but admits, ‘next year that could be different.’ To keep in tune with audiences, Lewis adds that when commissioning, ‘we have to make sure the independent producers we’re working with can come up with concepts that are very adoptable; I think that’s a huge challenge for all broadcasters right now.’

CTV Travel’s evolution into Travel + Escape was partly because, as Lewis explains, ‘CTV Travel seemed a bit too literal in terms of how it represented the programming that was airing on the channel… It was pretty clear people weren’t interested in the traditional travelog destination-based programming anymore.’ Instead, they wanted more adventure-oriented shows, such as Jet Set, Top Secret Beaches, and World’s Most Dangerous Places, ‘so we decided that’s where we would put our attention,’ says Lewis.

Another realization involved the gender of the channel’s viewers: while CTV Travel had aimed to appeal to both adult males and females aged 25 to 54, Lewis says the channel was starting to skew more male, so they had to consider which programs were going to attract both sexes. We’ll have to see if World’s Most Dangerous Places does the trick.

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