In an effort to put a fresh spin on its brand of reality programming, VH1 will raise the curtain on some 44 frosh series this year as it hunts for a new generation of signature shows.
Sibling MTV, which caters to teens, has found success of late with “Jersey Shore” after going through a few tough years. VH1 is looking to make similar headway with its core audience as it fights off increasing competition from cablers such as E! and Oxygen.
In order to make room for the shows, VH1 is saying goodbye to a handful of skeins.
Gone are tawdry but buzzworthy shows “Rock of Love,” “Flavor of Love” and “Tool Academy,” replaced by a slew of series that, the network hopes, are embraced by a burgeoning twentysomething female crowd.
Ratings in the 18-34 female demographic fell 7% in the first quarter. VH1 execs are trying to break through the reality clutter by categorizing their shows among three areas: music, celebrities and real-life stories.
“This is part of our ongoing evolution,” Jeff Olde, exec VP of original programming, told Daily Variety . “Our viewers are voracious consumers looking for new stories, and we wanted to ramp up our development slate. It’s the right time to get super-aggressive.”
Music-related programming — once the pre-eminent programming staple on the net — will make up 40% of the lineup beginning in September. VH1 is ramping up episodes of signature series “Behind the Music” with fresh episodes in June; special “An Evening With Christina Aguilera” is set to air June. 13.
Looking to cash in on wedding themes — the genre has worked well for fellow cabler TLC — VH1 adds docuseries “My Big Friggin Wedding” and “Wedding Wars” The former series looks at how brides and grooms don’t see eye-to-eye concerning what makes a memorable ceremony and after-party, while “Wedding Wars” is an elimination series where couples compete against one another to win a dream wedding. “This is a great audience to be after and we have a strong connection with that audience,” Olde said. “They know VH1 and are multidimensional. They’re having babies, getting married and getting engaged.”
Also upcoming is “Money Hungry,” where 10 overweight teams of two vie for $100,000.
“You’re Cut Off,” premiering June 14, examines nine women who are stopped from going on shopping sprees, must live within their means and be productive members of society. Fly on the Wall Prods. produces.
In the development stage, VH1 is teaming with “Desperate Housewives” thesp Eva Longoria Parker on “Beso: Waiting on Fame,” a pilot about the staff at her restaurant, Beso. Also in the works is a pilot from longtime VH1 personality Drew Pinsky (“Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew”) titled “Estranged With Dr. Drew,” where couples decide if they want to reunite or separate.
Earlier in the year, VH1 announced upcoming shows from NFL wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, “Basketball Wives” spinoff “Football Wives” and “The OCD Project.”
In September, Mark McGrath begins hosting the music gameshow “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” as a daily strip.