Geared toward the Martha Stewart crowd – though leaning more toward the upscale bunch more likely to go out and buy the things Martha beams about rather than those who have the time to make them – the Fine Living TV network has been focused on informational programming about how to spend money wisely. With a mandate to help people do more with their time and money, the focus is on how to obtain time-saving luxuries, like a dog walker, or better ways to shop. ‘I think if you were to hear the words ‘Fine Living’ you would think that we want shows on yachting and luxury golf adventures and we haven’t been doing that for a long time,’ says general manager Chad Youngblood.
A recent strategy by Youngblood utilized an online comparison shopping service – owned by Fine Living’s parent company, EW Scripps – to create programming for the network. Shopzilla doesn’t sell products, but offers recommendations about what other people are buying and editorial content about products, and then points shoppers toward vendors. In conjunction with Cincinnati’s JTV, Fine Living developed American Shopper, a show that serves much the same function as Shopzilla by recommending products and looking to experts for information on what people are currently buying. The show then points the viewer toward Shopzilla to continue the chain of shopping information.
While the network delivers a lot of this information-based programming, such as the weekend morning’s ‘Smart Shopping Weekends’ block, this year Youngblood says the focus will be on looking for new, entertaining primetime lifestyle shows. Fine Living is looking for programs in the same vein as Real Estate Confidential, a current production with LA’s Screen Door Entertainment about the drama that unfolds while real estate agents wheel and deal. ‘Just like a lot of our competition, we want something that is talent-driven and feeds into people’s need to be informed and entertained,’ says Youngblood. ‘Our upscale audience is well-educated and we always want to respect that intelligence, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun.’ The intention is to combine reality with informative content.
‘Anybody who tells you that the reality thing is going to dry up and come to an end is misinformed. I don’t think we’ve even found the ultimate creativity in that genre,’ says Youngblood. ‘I think if we’d looked back a couple of years ago and said ‘Ballroom dancing is gonna be a disaster on television,’ we could never have predicted Dancing with the Stars and that success.’