It’s easy to stay in your own lane, but Charter has been unafraid to go off-roading in search of better ways to serve its customers.
The operator surprised many when it announced the launch of Spectrum TV Essentials, a $14.99/month OTT video service with over 60 live channels to be made available exclusively in Charter’s footprint to Spectrum internet-only customers. But Charter has been outside the box a lot recently, creating its own original content division.
When Charter decided to give content production a whirl, it brought in the big guns. It recruited Katherine Pope, a veteran of NBC and Chernin Entertainment, to serve as head of Spectrum Originals, which is developing exclusive originals to premiere first on its cable system.
In creating her programming strategy, Pope originally set out to figure out Spectrum’s demographic. That wasn’t as easy as anticipated with Spectrum covering 41 states, so she decided to take an approach that sliced up the demo into different pieces. “Let’s look around at the TV landscape. What groups aren’t seeing themselves reflected on television, and what might be the opportunity… If there’s a show that a subscriber says, ‘This show is for me. That’s my show,’ I think that will create a stronger bond,” Pope says. Pope believes the strategy will build stronger connections with the subscriber base, keeping them coming back for more.
So far, it seems like the strategy has been working. Spectrum Originals’ “L.A.’s Finest” was renewed for a second season ahead of the Season 1 finale.
“When I first saw the pilot—a show about two strong women learning to trust and support each other and still getting into plenty of trouble—I knew I’d follow them anywhere,” Pope said following the renewal of the “Bad Boys” spinoff.
While Spectrum Originals and OTT offering Spectrum Essentials have grabbed recent headlines, Charter’s reputation for bringing value adds to its subscribers has long been in place. When it obtained ownership of regional cable news networks through its purchase of Time Warner Cable in 2016, Charter didn’t just set out to keep the lights on at the stations. It began investing, rebranding the nets into Spectrum News and looking at other parts of the country in which it could make an entry.
The past year has seen the Spectrum News family grow exponentially with new branches launching in Southern California, Kentucky, Ohio and Wisconsin.
“At a time when other news organizations are cutting the resources for local news coverage, Spectrum News 1 is dedicated to providing coverage that is hyperlocal and focused on the issues and community concerns shaping the neighborhoods and impacting the lives of Spectrum viewers,” Charter news and content VP Cater Lee said following the launch of the Southern California news net last fall.
Spectrum now carries, comprehensive local programming on 31 networks across 12 states. Charter has also developed other ways for fans to interact with and hear more local stories from their favorite anchors, launching podcasts including “Crosstown with Pat Kiernan” and “Off Topic on Politics: The NY1 Political Podcast.”
“It’s another opportunity to push the boundaries of traditional local news by bringing content that’s hyper-focused on the communities we serve to viewers across a variety of platforms,” Spectrum Networks GVP of audience and content strategy Alison Hellman said in a statement.
– Sara Winegardner