HotProperty: Cinematherapy on WE
Cindy Crawford, Vanessa Williams and Faye Dunaway all want WE, the hot new, for-women channel. And what they want to watch on WE is Cinematherapy, the hotter-still nightly movie package delivering not so good clean fun, pitched around a made-to-be indulged in movie.
Every night at 8:00 P.M., Cinematherapy hosts focus on a different theme. Want to live happily ever after? Join them for Where Harry Met Sally. Seeking greener pastures? Dip into Enchanted April. Dumped, and now out for blood? Welcome to another offering of Fatal Attraction. WE executives gently tweak any notion that its made for women channel offers television that's "good for you." The channel says, "Don't visit here if you want to be preached at, converted, empowered, made to lose weight, or challenged to redo the house."
"Our mantra is 'Live, Love, Laugh,'" explains Lee Heffernan, SVP/marketing. "Our programming is upbeat, not negative, and never puts women in a bad light. We want women to lose themselves (for an hour or so) and have fun." Cinematherapy provides a signature indulgence for WE viewers, and this nightly "movie medicine" has successfully lured new viewers to this two-year old cable channel.
WE, originally conceived as Romance Classics, re-launched itself in 2001, with a bright, colorful new look that emphasized fun. Within two years, the network audience grew from 24 million homes to over 50 million.
Cinematherapy's ratings success reflects that growth. While most new cable network programming gets hash marks on Nielsen, among Cinematherapy's ratings successes are Working Girl, (1.9), Once Around with Holly Hunter (0.82), and Ghost (0.70).
The Cinematherapy hosts chat, dish the dirt and do their nails. They also offer unabashed opinions and humorous therapeutic advice, from noting the "smoochability" of a film's male stars, to how to beat working girl blues, dysfunctional romance/mother issues, or just plain PMS. In the process, advertisers such as Revlon, Procter & Gamble, Sears, and Johnson & Johnson are using WE to reach the 25 to 34 and 25 to 49 female demos, which is slyly reflected in the use of WE star spokespersons like Cindy, Vanessa and Faye.
WE's combination of active and passive programming, built on a foundation of fun, is also reflected in its newest offering, Single and Loving It." Debuting in March, this original reality series follows the lives and loves of singles out for true love, or, at least, a second date. Single in LA will be followed by Single in New York this summer, with Single in Las Vegas to air in 2004.
Heffernan says, "Despite being real women on real dating situations, all of that is filtered through the spirit of women having fun and agencies like that. We're doing 6 to 8 episodes, not 13, so viewers can get in and get out. That's the beauty of a smaller, younger network."
Said Heffernan, who spent five years at cable network Lifetime, "Nobody was buying against women when Lifetime was launched. Now, there are so many categories that women's buying habits affect, even home improvement." Rather than demonstrate, for instance, a circular saw, however, WE offers Cinematherapy for women needing a quiet rest from all their other heavy-duty work.