Women’s networks air plenty of shows about wedding planning, relationships, romance and honeymoons. But Tony Prince believes the 300,000 women who get engaged every year in the UK are a largely ignored audience, and therefore they need a channel devoted just to them. Prince is the program director for Wedding TV, a London-based channel that started in 2006, and is aimed at the female demographic aged 18 to 34 that is, presumably, interested in programming about romance and the walk down the aisle.
‘With my experience in television I’m finding with the BARB system, which measures 5,200 homesteads in the UK, (that if) the young woman has left that home,’ says Prince, ‘she’s not being measured. And if a specific audience isn’t being measured, and therefore has no value (to broadcasters), they will not make programs for that audience.’ Therefore, he believes that Wedding TV is the first channel in the UK targeted specifically at the overlooked young female demographic.
When the channel launched, it was in a hurry to get on the air, so it went on a shopping spree and bought enough programming to get off the ground. Starting with 100% acquisitions (much of them coming from North America), Prince realized the channel was too American-sounding for a channel that is only available in Poland, Russia, Turkey and the UK. Since much of the pre-existing English-language programming appropriate to his audience is already tied up by other UK channels, he hired three indie production teams to start shooting their own programs.
The result is dozens of original programs revolving around celebrity brides, real couples and ex-wives dishing the dirt. Celebrity Brides Unveiled is a program that visits with people who are well known in Britain as they recall their wedding day; Rock ‘n’ Rollmance digs the dirt from the ex-wives and girlfriends of rock stars; and WAG’s World follows one of Britain’s best-known WAGs (wives and girlfriends of footballers), Lizzie Cundy, as she takes other WAGs out shopping or to dinner. It also features the stories of regular people in shows such as Perfect Day, a program that chats with couples about the path to their walk down the aisle; Springtime for Hillie, which is about two lesbians and the problems they have organizing their weddings; and a documentary called Marrying Elvis, which follows three couples who went to Memphis to get married at the Graceland Chapel during the 30th anniversary of Elvis’ death.
Though the channel has moved into in-house production and aims to make 250 hours this year, it still has a budget for acquisitions. ‘We want sticky programs, but the one element that will tie them all together is they’ve got to appeal to young women 18 to 34,’ says Prince. If he could wish for one program to fall in his lap, it would be a live, late-night chat show. ‘I want to see real women talking about things women talk about these days… after 10 o’clock at night.’