Hannah Barnes, director of programming and acquisitions, Lifestyle Channels for Australia’s XYZ Networks, is busy acquiring lifestyle programming for XYZ’s Lifestyle Channel, Lifestyle FOOD and its newest addition, Lifestyle YOU. Barnes discusses what she’s looking for, trends and Octomom with realscreen.
How did you find MIPCOM?
We had a great MIPCOM. It was much more buoyant than the last and we were encouraged that there is still a good supply of lifestyle programming coming through from the UK and the States. [We're] thrilled to have exclusively acquired the Octomom special in Australia. Octomom (The Incredible Unseen Footage) [produced by Pilgrim Films & Television for Fox] will be launching on our new channel, LifeStyle YOU.
What is XYZ Network’s strategy regarding lifestyle and non-fiction programming?
Our strategy is to continue to be the home of the best of lifestyle programming in Australia. We look for programming that is inspirational, informative and always entertaining, and screen everything from the best in property and garden to the latest in food and wine, plus never-seen-before real life stories.
We have a portfolio of channels. The LifeStyle Channel is our brand leader and is all about ‘life enhancing entertainment.’ LifeStyle FOOD is all about ‘everyday entertaining, celebrity chefs and competition cooking ‘ and our new channel, LifeStyle YOU, is about ‘self-enhancing entertainment.’
What’s the ratio of content between acquisitions and commissions?
Twenty-five percent is commissions and the remainder is made up of acquisitions.
We have some exciting commissions coming up on The LifeStyle Channel in 2010; Come Dine with Me Australia, Grand Designs Australia and Selling Houses Australia. We are also the home of the original versions of Come Dine with Me, Grand Designs, Selling Houses and Property Ladder.
On LifeStyle FOOD we will be launching an exciting new production called Chefs Christmas in December 2009.
Are you noticing any trends in the lifestyle genre?
The food genre is booming and there are lots of copycat Come Dine With Me formats coming out of the UK. Medical ob docs seems to be coming back in a big way and it is all very warmhearted. Also there are a number of good dating formats out there which are more about ‘real’ people as opposed to an ideal.
What are some of the things that you are not interested in acquiring?
We are not interested in acquiring anything that is purely male-skewed or mean-spirited in its tone.
What types of programming are you looking at acquiring right now?
We have just acquired Octomom from Alfred Haber and are looking for more noisy human interest stories that women can relate to in some way or another. We will continue to acquire the best in food and property programming. For YOU we have acquired Tough Love and will extend the dating genre with Holidate from Disney. It has been encouraging to see that we have been able to extend out the Location and Relocation franchise with Kirstie’s Homemade Home which has been a real success on the channel.