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Upfront 2016: Pop Moves to Woo Ad Dollars From Oxygen, Bravo, Lifetime

Pop, the young cable network, wants to give its rivals a pop of their own — right in the eye.

The cable outlet backed by CBS Corp. and Lionsgate that was once best known as the TV Guide Network, is making a pitch to advertisers this year suggesting they ought to take some of the dollars earmarked for female-skewing rivals like Oxygen, Bravo and Lifetime, and instead shift them to its programs.

“Our ratings are growing, and most of the industry is going in the other direction,” said Brad Schwartz, the network’s president, in an interview last week. Executives will emphasize a slate of programming that Schwartz said will lack the snark and cat-fighting that is so prevalent on other networks. “We are not doing ‘Snapped’ and ‘Bad Girls Club’ and housewives and rich kids,” he said. Pop’s plan to is to tout programs that appeal to fans of various topics, but don’t highlight conflict and tension.

“We have none of that, and it’s on purpose,” he said. “We try to be a little bit more uplifting and optimistic. When you come to our channel, it should always feel like a good time.”

His plan is to offer four original series every quarter, and expects the network to be able to do so in 2017.

One of the bigger projects on the schedule is “Nightcap,” a 10-episode half-hour comedy produced by Lionsgate Television. The series starts Ali Wentworth as a producer on a late-night program and her run through the hectic minutes before the show goes on the air. “There’s so much going on in late-night,” said Schwartz, offering “an opportunity to poke at it.” The series is produced by Ali Wentworth, Tom Brunelle and Brad Wollack and Troy Miller/Dakota Films for Lionsgate Television, and is set to premiere this summer.

A reality series, “Hollywood Darlings,” focuses on three child stars of the 1990s — Jodie Sweetin from “Full House,” Christine Lakin from “Step by Step” and Beverley Mitchell of “7th Heaven.”  The series will follow three lifelong friends who grew up together, became household names and now must face issues as  moms, wives and businesswomen. The series is produced by Objective Productions USA and All3Media America, and is scheduled to premiere in 2017.

“The Joey McIntyre Project” is in development and would become Pop’s third original scripted comedy series if it is greenlit. The show catches up with Joey in his attempt to branch out from his New Kids on the Block fame and become a serious actor. The show is produced by T Group Productions and executive produced by Donnie Wahlberg, Jenny McCarthy, Joey McIntyre, Jenny Daly, Paul Greenberg and Tim Gibbons.

Pop has renewed the comedy series “Schitt’s Creek” for a third season, and will present second seasons of documentary series “Rock This Boat: New Kids on the Block” and “Sing It On,” as well as a second season of comedy “Unusually Thicke.” The network will also continue to show “Big Brother After Dark.” Pop has also unveiled “The Easiest Game Show Ever,” a pop-culture trivia game show that is executive produced by Nigel Lythgoe and Gail Berman via the Jackal Group, with executive producers Barry Poznick and Eric Levy.

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