Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey are women whose media prowess cannot be denied. Both left network TV and syndication deals for cable (Hallmark and OWN respectively) and their audience is declining. Why? I think it is because they failed at appealing to the cable TV audience. Network television is akin to general market advertising. Cable television is segmented. It is niche market. For example, NBC Universal has both a network channel (NBC) and many other cable channels, (Bravo, USA). The cable channels have a segmented market and the branding and advertising for the channels are clearly defined.
OWN most popular show is Sweetie Pie’s which is not your typical Oprah fare. It is a reality show, but it is not about famous people or self-help gurus. It is about a former Ikette, Robbie Montgomerey, who runs a soul food restaurant with her son in St Louis. My friend Nicole said, “Positive, funny, tons of food porn and showing black folks in a positive light.” The show premiered October 15 and in less than two months and no big promotion, it is the highest rated show on OWN. Now, OWN has to do something that they have been dragged into doing–market the show and network to African American audiences. Oprah has always sought to transcend color in the programming of her shows and this is a big opportunity. This is a chance for OWN to be a Lifetime Channel for African American women. This is a way to bring family entertainment to a diverse audience. Update: Read Danielle Belton’s article on Clutch Magazine about OWN.
Martha Stewart has a niche that has not been fully leveraged, the convergence of lifestyle content with technology. Martha is a twitter whiz, loves gadgets, blogging and has launched a few iPad Apps. She is the OG of lifestyle content. The people who love technology are not watching the Hallmark channel. Martha should consider either syndication again (either with Hulu or Netflix) or have her full shows available for streaming. People who love Martha would pay. Also, there’s should be more integration of Martha Stewart radio.
What’s the takeaway from this? Marketing strategies have to change when you go from general market to niche market. Cable television is niche. Just ask anyone at SyFy channel.