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Spike TV Cozies Up to Young Women

Cabler looks to build on its growing appeal to femmes, hoping that dudes abide

A funny thing has been happenning lately at Spike TV: Femme viewers have been showing up.

The guy-centric cabler known for pro fighting and frat-boy fare is looking to build on its growing appeal to women by broadening the focus of its unscripted development, which includes new projects with Graham Elliot of “Master Chef” and comedian Adam Carolla.

Spike’s most recent reality successes — “Ink Master”; “Bar Rescue” and “Tattoo Nightmares” — have helped to skew the net more toward a more even mix of men and women. “Tattoo Nightmares” actually drew slightly more femmes in the 18-34 demo than men (51% to 49%).

Women comprised about 47% of the viewership for the most recent season of “Ink Master” in both the 18-34 and 18-49 demographics. Those numbers are surprising, given that there’s no shortage of other cablers chasing female viewers.

“We’re looking to create a more gender-balanced audience while still keeping our 18-34 guys who have been with us since the beginning,” Sharon Levy, Spike’s exec veep of original series, told Variety. “The shows now in development are a testament to this initiative.”

Spike’s decision to spread its wings with new programming comes as it faces heightened competition for the core dude demo of men 18-34.

Discovery Channel, History and A&E are among the cablers that draw goodsized crowds of men with unscripted hits. What’s more, NBCUniversal and Hearst will rebrand the struggling G4 channel as the Esquire Network this summer, offering yet another iteration of
programming for the modern man, albeit with a more chic approach.

“It’s all about breaking through in a tremendously competitive market,” Levy said. “You’ve got to have the best talent on your shows. That’s why we pursue guys like Adam Carolla and Graham Elliot, who have followings on other platforms.”

Carolla (who polls surprisingly well with women, according to Spike’s research) will be serving as a watchdog to homeowners and businesses who have been cheated by a contractor in “To Catch a Contractor,” created by Eyeworks USA.

Shine America’s “Covert Kitchens,” hosted by Elliot, gives viewers a glimpse at the underground restaurant scene where one-night-only culinary events reign supreme in alleyways, train cars and even tattoo parlors. Celeb chef Eric Greenspan will host “Frankenfood,” a culinary competish in which home cooks try to get their dishes on a restaurant’s menu.

Other shows in development include projects centering on criminal defense attorneys, renovation of eyesore neighborhood properties, auto body repair shops, hard money lending and workplace reality shows.

“Broadening our audience puts us on a different competitive radar,” Levy said. “A lot of channels cater to men. The way to compete is to look at it as a bigger business.”

And of course, there’s one more key ingredient: “You have to have the best shows,” she said.

Female Friendly

“Ink Master,” “Bar Rescue” and “Tattoo Nightmares” clicked with women, and shows are in the works starring Adam Carolla and Graham Elliott:

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