It's been over a year since WOTV in Grand Rapids, Mich., started its new slogan, "WOTV 4 Women." WOTV is one of several stations looking to be upfront about their desires to lure specific sets of viewers.
To the casual observer, looking for niche audiences may seem to be taking a page out of the cable network playbook. But actually it's an old page. Lifetime, for instance, dropped its long-time tagline "Televison For Women" after 2005. Similarly, AMC Networks' WE TV had been called WE: Women Entertainment until 2006.
Though Lifetime and WE TV’s overt brand tags are gone, viewer brand consciousness can remain. And though a number of other networks don’t label themselves as such, we know they are mostly about attracting women. This list includes Bravo, E!, TLC, Oxygen and OWN.
To be sure, many broadcast stations already run heavy women-oriented skewed programming with wall-to-wall morning and daytime talk shows -- and to a lesser extent, court shows. Perhaps 65%-70% of their viewers are women, especially the key older 25-54 demo.
Broadcast prime-time programming can also be 55%-60% women-oriented, depending on network. So you can see why stations might want to brand towards women.
But why stop there? Stations can also skew -- or at least brand -- to other niches. Maybe young women or young men? (Perhaps a few Fox or CW affiliates have already gone this route.)
Presently stations are stuck in limbo. They are still "broadcasters", after all -- catering, in theory, to everyone. Yet we see signs of huge transitions for local programmers -- not just morphing into pseudo-cable stations or networks, but into more niche digital efforts.
Broadcasters becoming narrowcasters? Stations could plainly be telling remote-holding viewers, "Don't stop here. Keep moving."