Martha Stewart Teams Up With Discovery, New Show Will Get Some TLC

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) and Discovery Communications will partner to re-broadcast MSLO's new syndicated television series on The Learning Channel, which is owned and operated by Discovery, the companies announced on Tuesday.

Scheduled to launch on Sept. 12 in more than 96 percent of U.S. television markets, the television show, dubbed "Martha," will be re-broadcast on TLC in the early evening the same day as the syndicated broadcast. It is estimated that it will reach some 90 million homes.

Also included in the partnership will be a 13-part original home improvement series developed by MSLO to air on one of Discovery's 16 U.S. networks.

The series will focus on women recovering from such traumas as stings in drug rehabilitation facilities, recovering from bankruptcy, or getting off welfare programs. The series follows the women as they are paired with a mentor and a design team from the staff of Martha Stewart Living.

Susan Lyne, president and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, says: "For the home renovation show, I think you could certainly say Martha has drawn on her experiences, and has a commitment for helping women in transition." Lyne adds that stations need not fear losing their exclusive airing of "Martha," since virtually all the syndication airings come in the morning time slots--well before TLC's re-airing of "Martha" in late-afternoon time slots.



In regard to syndication advertising sales, Lyne says: "We are selling very well--we priced it well. We have closed a lot of deals--many with product integrations." Lyne did not disclose further details.

Media buyers say MSLO is pricing "Martha" at Oprah-like prices. "We are looking for significant dollars from advertisers," says Lyne. "We are ahead of our plan. We are not going to come off our price. It's not just about CPMs--it's about integrations [of products] and accessing a loyal audience. The integrations will never feel intrusive."

Since Stewart's release after serving five months in federal prison due to an obstruction-of-justice conviction, MSLO has also forged partnerships with Sirius Satellite Radio--which is set to broadcast a Martha-inspired channel--and Kmart Corporation, which is set to mark a new line of furniture endorsed by the media personality.

Although some have pointed to such moves--and the marked appreciation in MSLO's stock currently trading at around $28--since Stewart's release as something of a renaissance, others have remained more circumspect. The credit rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the company's stock sell to a strong sell last week, citing an "unsustainably high" share price "based on unrealistic investor expectations."

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