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Berwick: Lifestyle Viewers Are Social Spenders

NEW YORK — Heading into the 2015-16 upfront season, NBCUniversal’s Lifestyle Networks group is poised to reach a large swath of cable viewers with content that crosses both men and women in several key demos, Lifestyle Networks president Frances Berwick said.

Berwick, who last September added oversight of E! and Esquire Network to her duties as head of Oxygen and Bravo, said her group combined reaches nearly half of all adults 18-49 and women 18-49 through its various scripted series, reality shows, and other content.

“Our audience is the most social and most likely to spend, and they’re much younger than any group you’re likely to buy,” Berwick told Multichannel News at the network’s New York upfront presentation last Tuesday. “They are very connected and like to influence their friends — it’s a strong one-stop sell [for advertisers.]”

All four networks are looking to build their original programming lineups with content that appeals to young and trendy audiences. Women-centric Oxygen will even partner with male-targeted Esquire to produce two comedy series — one for each network — sharing the same cast.

In Comedians of L.A., Esquire will follow up-and-coming standup comics playing clubs around the U.S. to build name recognition. Oxygen’s Living With Funny, will follow the comics at home and off-stage with their significant others.

Other announcements from the upfront include:

• Bravo will spin off Real Housewives of Atlanta stars NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak Biermann into a new series dubbed NeNe and Kim: The Road to Riches, which will take the two women on a cross country adventure.

• Oxygen will increase its original programming by more than 25% with new series like dating revenge show Player Gets Played, and an Atlanta spinoff of its Preachers of L.A. reality series.

• Esquire will pump up its sports-themed shows with The Agent, which will follow four top sports agents looking to place young athletes in the pro-football ranks.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.