Spike TV has announced pickups of four new original non-scripted series to premiere in 2012. When CableFAX spoke with the net earlier this year, the plan was to reach out to an older, male audience—not just the youngins. And if they bring the whole family along to watch, even better, says Sharon Levy, evp original series for Spike TV. CableFAX spoke with Levy about the net’s new direction and the success it has achieved thus far.

Are these new shows meant to appeal to the older male demo as well?
About a year ago, we decided we definitely wanted to broaden our audience—to not just young men 18-24, but to make sure the 35- to 49-year-old men were coming as well. We’ve had great success in that—all the shows that have launched this summer have been performing excellent for us in that category. Like “Bar Rescue,” (which has gone up every single week) “Auction Hunter,” “Repo Games,” “1,000 Ways to Die.” Now with this next batch we’re continuing that focus. It’s literally just broadening out to an older viewer. There’s no radical brand change.
Are you trying to attract women viewers at all?
What we’ve said is that we make television for men, but we don’t want to alienate women. We like for them to stay and watch with their guys. It’s more about implementing strategies to attract the older men—and that means slower storytelling, making sure that everything we do has real stakes—and reflecting authenticity. In some cases, such as in “Bar Rescue,” Jon Taffer’s wife is part of his actual job. So we’re happy to have her in the show. But it’s not like we’re making a concentrated effort to target women.
In the first episode of “Bar Rescue,” the bar owner was a woman and so were all of the bartenders. She was a very likeable character.
That show is a great example of authenticity. This is what Jon Taffer does for a living. It has great stakes—which is, will these bars fail? But at the center is a charismatic, lead male. I think that’s what all the new shows have in common, whether it’s Tat-2 from “Big Easy Justice” or Todd Howard from “World’s Worst Tenants” or Rick Savage from “American Digger.” But again, this is his business. And part of his business is his wife and his son.
Any other new shows on the horizon?
There’s another show called “Flip Men.” I think that’s another show with guys in high risk/high reward scenarios. They literally buy houses almost sight unseen. Sometimes they can look at the outside, sometimes they buy it based on comps—and when they get there it’s like, what’s behind door number 1? That’s another great example of a show that should be broad.
What makes the show have a broader appeal?
I think it’s about stakes, a world that older guys care about watching. They have to feel like they’re getting something out of the experience. It can’t be sizzle with no steak.

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