NEW YORK — Oxygen kicked off the upfront season, getting things off to a very early start (not only January, but 8:30am) by hosting its first ever upfront presentation. Oxygen doesn’t just have fellow women’s nets Lifetime and WE in its sights, network president Lisa Gersh said. The net is now matching the viewer profiles of E!, Bravo and VH1 and took pains ("without naming names," she joked) to position her net as younger and funnier than other women’s nets.
A big part of its message to advertisers is that it has a young, upscale female demo, noting that women pay 84% of all bills and are tech savvy. "Double your client base with us in the next 12 months," Gersh challenged buyers, saying that Oxygen did over $100 million in ad sales last year.
The network’s execs joked about the earliness of their upfront, while pointing out more seriously that the TV buying season is now a year-round business. (Case in point: Cartoon Network’s NY upfront is Feb. 14 while SOAPnet’s is Feb. 15.) Their other peg for breaking toast with TV ad buyers: the distribution benchmark of hitting 71 million homes, with 80 million homes on their radar by year-end.
Oxygen is also returning to its multiplatform origins. With original On Demand brands Oh! Baby and Air Karaoke under its belt, the network just launched social networking site Oomph.net and its first broadband channel, SheDidWhat.tv (powered by FeedRoom.com). "We want to figure out this multiscreen world with you," Gersh told buyers, noting that Oomph seeks to unite women through shared passions, while SheDidWhat provides on demand clips from on-air shows plus original broadband series, such as Our Bodies, Myself.
Programming and marketing president Debby Beece introduced upcoming linear programming highlights, including reality pilots Adfight (competing ad agency teams) and Homefield Advantage (Deion Sanders’ wife’s travails raising her family in small town Prosper, TX). The TV arm of Quentin Tarantino’s production company will produce upcoming original movie, Everything but the Girl.
Oxygen’s development slate includes three original scripted series (not a first: it aired original series Good Girls Don’t in its third year on-air). Among them is Angry Little Girls, an animated half hour based on Lela Lee’s book. Previous specials, Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance and Fight Girls, will return this summer as series. In the Oh-No-You-Aren’t dept, Beece said Oxygen will be in the delivery room filming during pregnant Tori Spelling’s upcoming bed & breakfast reality series. (Ewww…)
A-lister Jamie Foxx (Foxxygen, anyone?) came in at the end of the event to sing and tickle the ivories (and the female- skewing crowd), still recovering from his previous night’s concert at Madison Square Garden.
Earlier, the net’s Campus Ladies infiltrated the breakfast crowd with some improv schtick, while Janice Dickinson also ventured into the audience, saying she was looking for a media exec to make over and ripping the shirt off some random attendee— turned out the rippling, muscle-bound man was a bodybuilder hired for the gig.
Oxygen chairman and CEO Gerry Laybourne, meanwhile, didn’t linger; she was DC-bound following the upfront to help honor the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues in partnership with Discovery Networks, an annual event that this year had the added bonus of the first ever female Speaker of the House.