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Will Viewers Demand ‘Intelligence’?

TV and Radio platforms bring shows to broad audiences, but there are now other ways to effectively reach viewers as well.

Intelligence for Your Life, the brainchild of married celebrity couple John Tesh and Connie Sellecca and their son, Gib Gerard, airs as a half-hour strip, double-run in some markets, and is cleared on some 130 TV stations covering about 83% of the country.

But syndicated time slots on top-rated stations in large markets are hard to come by—and Tesh and his head of distribution Mark Dvornik personally visited hundreds of general managers to get the show on TV in 2014—so Tesh, Sellecca and Gerard sought other ways to deliver their little-show-that-could to viewers.

On Nov. 1, Tesh Media is launching an online premium service, giving fans access to Intelligence for Your Life on demand for $3.99 per month.

“We never go longer than three minutes on a conversation during the show, but now if we want to go longer we can put the rest of the conversation on the premium site,” says Tesh, perhaps best known for cohosting CBS Television Distribution’s Entertainment Tonight from 1986-96. “We have access to a lot of authors, speakers, experts and pastors and we have hundreds of interviews available to us.”

On the new site, viewers can see every episode of the show, now entering its second season. They can also watch featured playlists on subjects such as weight-loss and relationships, as well as videos in the show’s vertical areas of expertise, which include faith, family, career, health, pets and more.

“We think of it as life coaching on the radio or Oprah on the radio,” says Tesh. “It’s taking the talk element of The View and blending it with the speed of ET.”

This fall, Team Tesh is offering its first nonmedia product—a “Birchbox for dogs”-style service called “Intelligence for Your Pets,” a subscription box that includes treats and toys for Fido. Sellecca has her own beauty line, so other verticals—such as health or beauty—could be next.

Tesh and Sellecca, a model and actress who starred in Hotel and The Greatest American Hero, have built the Intelligence for Your Life brand by offering viewers tons of practical tips and tricks, much of it based on current research, on how to improve your quality of life. This information is presented as sort of a family chat between Tesh, Sellecca and Gerard, with TMZ-style graphics zipping in and out behind the trio.

Intelligence for Your Life’s lifestyle approach allows it to work closely with brands. Currently, the show has a deal with SlimFast, integrating the product into show segments. The brand also has worked with partners such as General Motors, Home Depot, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Geico Insurance and PetSmart.

Intelligence for Your Life, the TV show, emerged from similar programs the family has been producing for radio for the past 13 years. Tesh included “Intelligence for Your Life” segments in his earlier radio program, The John Tesh Show, and that eventually evolved into its own show. Sellecca, meanwhile, hosted a spinoff radio program called Intelligence for Your Health. The family self-syndicates those radio programs, working with radio companies such as Cumulus and Townsquare Media.

“Our gross impressions on the radio are around 23 million and we produce 36 hours of content a week,” says Tesh. “We air in different formats, including adult contemporary, talk and jazz.”

Intelligence for Your Life is a compilation of short segments—rarely longer than two or three minutes—that cut down perfectly to run on social platforms. The brand is particularly active on Facebook, where Tesh’s page has more than a half-million likes and IFYL has about 14,000 likes. Social is becoming increasingly important to TV brands, and Intelligence for Your Life has four social media people working on behalf of the program. “At this point, social doesn’t directly contribute revenue but it’s always pushing people to the show,” says Tesh.

At the moment, Intelligence for Your Life is making a big social push for its new subscription pet boxes, with videos on Facebook and elsewhere.

“We treat Intelligence for Your Life as a brand, not as a TV show,” says Tesh. “We don’t want to be one of those shows that airs for two years and then you never hear from it again.”

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.