Silberwasser: ‘TLC roll-out is an opening for producers’

The launch of TLC's in-house production and development unit should be viewed as an opportunity for producers rather than a threat, according to Discovery Networks International's EVP and chief content officer Luis Silberwasser (pictured).
March 25, 2011

The launch of TLC’s in-house production and development unit should be viewed as an opportunity for producers rather than a threat, according to Discovery Networks International’s (DNI) EVP and chief content officer Luis Silberwasser (pictured).

Talking to realscreen, Silberwasser – who now oversees both the content and the roll-out of the TLC network internationally – said that the network’s in-house unit would be looking to partner with producers across the globe in a variety of different ways. As such, there will be more openings for prodcos to get their content on TLC, rather than less.

“It’s a great opportunity for producers,” Silberwasser said. “TLC International can be a platform for production companies to expose their content to the international market, and that’s quite hard – there are not a lot of places out there where you can take a concept or a format and produce it in many, many markets in one swoop.

“You get exposure, and you get to create a big brand. At Discovery, we have done that a lot with our own shows but we haven’t really done it with other people’s shows, so there is now an opportunity for others to partner with us in the creation of those brands, and that’s a big thing.”

He added that TLC International will be more flexible than the U.S. Discovery and TLC channels. “We will take existing formats and make them locally, or create a format of our own, partnering with independent production companies,” he said.

As an example, he cited the success of the local version of Renegade Pictures’ Don’t Tell The Bride – a format which originally aired on BBC3 in the UK – in Norway, as well as the fact that Norwegian format Daughters vs. Mothers was now being made for the Russian market. The latter is a makeover show for women who are warring with family members over their wardrobes.

“In the U.S., Discovery Channel is a network where, editorially, we feel very comfortable with the majority of our shows being U.S. generated – Deadliest Catch, Dirty Jobs, Man Vs Wild, and so on,” said Silberwasser. “But TLC will be more balanced with regards to U.S. content and international content.

“What the actual percentage will be, I don’t know. But our vision is that when a woman around the world is looking at TLC, whether it’s in Poland or Norway, they will see a variety of shows. They are going to see shows that are U.S. generated, locally generated and internationally generated.

“What the balance at the end of the day will be is hard to say. The more ideas we find and do, the greater the percentage will be.”

The news comes after DNI yesterday confirmed that the Netherlands would be the next territory for TLC to launch in. The channel will have full distribution across analog and digital TV platforms in the region, reaching seven million homes from July 4.

Silberwasser said that TLC was still on track for its target of being in 75 markets by the end of the year, adding that the 2010 launches in Norway and Poland had been particularly successful. In the former, he claimed, TLC is now in the top 10 of all cable and satellite channels, while in the latter TLC is the top-rating cablesat channel for females.

“We know that to really be successful, we have to invest in content outside of the U.S.,” Silberwasser explained. “And this is largely going to be driven by TLC, but we also see an opportunity for Discovery Channel to benefit from that strategy.

“Our conversations with production companies so far have been very positive – they understand the value that we bring to the table, and we also recognize the fact that we need to work with them in different ways.

“It’s going to be positive, I hope – if they bring us their best ideas, we will treat those ideas right and make them big.”

Silberwasser will give one of two keynote speeches at MIPDoc in Cannes this April.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.