Niche TV Networks Hunt for Licensing Deals

Discussion
May 20, 2011
Tom Ryan

Looking for some action beyond their celebrity hosts in the merchandising world, E! Entertainment and The Food Network have both recently hatched licensing deals across a number of categories.

E!, part of the new NBCUniversal, announced licensing deals for items under the “Live From the Red Carpet” name. First launched in 1990 and made famous by the snide remarks of comic and former host Joan Rivers, the E! specials cover the arrival of celebrities at awards shows like the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys. The merchandise will say “E! Live From the Red Carpet” in addition to partner brands: Stila cosmetics; Adrianna Papell apparel, which will sell evening gowns; the Freshology meal plan; and Xen-Tan self-tanner and bronzer.

“Entry into branded consumer products is a logical next step for E!’s Live From the Red Carpet, which has made its mark as the worldwide destination for comprehensive red carpet coverage,” said Suzanne Kolb, president for marketing, in a statement. “This new initiative allows us to expand the E! brand beyond TV and into our viewers’ lives by inspiring their own red carpet moments which turn any occasion into an award-winning celebration. We have always been in the business of portraying beauty on the screen; now we are sharing some of those secrets with women everywhere.”

Talking to The New York Times, Ms. Kolb stressed that the offerings must move beyond to “the logo of a show you like on a T-shirt” to personify “the lifestyle aspects of our network brands, programs, franchises.”

Deanna Kangas, chief executive at Stila Cosmetics, told the Times, “We’re known in the cosmetics industry as ‘the inside-Hollywood brand’ and the reputation of E! on the red carpet, with its coverage of a lot of inside-Hollywood events, brings synergies that make sense.”

Meanwhile, The Food Network, part of Scripps Networks Interactive, recently signed a licensing deal with Wente Vineyards for California wines. It already has licensing deals with Hearst for Food Network Magazine, Kohl’s for kitchenware products and Delaware North for menu items at food stands at stadiums.

“We wanted to take the mystery out of wine for our viewers so that they could enjoy the marriage of food and wine as much as we do,” said Sergei Kuharsky, general manager of new enterprises, Food Network, in a statement.

Products tied to E! sibling channel Style are also being explored, according to the Times article.

Discussion Question: What do you think of niche television channels such as E! and Food Network as opportunities for merchandise licensing?

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9 Comments on "Niche TV Networks Hunt for Licensing Deals"


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Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

The Food Network has already flooded the market with books, cookware, etc.

Does it all sell? Not judging from the percentage of merchandise that seems to find its way to Marshall’s, but clearly as QVC and HSN proved, television can be an effective way to retail if you have the right match of product offerings and viewers.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Entertainment licensing has been around for many years and, as various media entities build niche fan bases, licensing as a brand equity monetization strategy makes a ton of sense. Both E! and Food Network have celebrity properties-within-properties (the personalities on E! and chefs on Food Network) that will help fulfill the “something for everyone” premise that makes an evergreen license (one that maintains a steady royalty stream and longevity). All of these qualities and more make these properties quite attractive to retailers as well.

Tony Orlando
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

If the network chases down an exclusive deal to represent their network shows, that is possibly good exposure for a new product. There are infinite ways to promote something, and this is kind of like a huge sign at Yankee Stadium. It might work.

Ben Ball
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Endorsements tend to fall into two camps. One is aspirational–“don’t you want to be like (fill in the blank)?” The other is implied efficacy based on the credibility of the endorser–“if XXXXX says so it must be good.”

With regards to “E-the red carpet”, I am so far out of the target psychodemographic target as to make any personal observations ludicrous. From a professional marketer perspective, it seems this endorsement would fall in the aspirational camp.

As a guy who owns more than one chef’s knife–the Food Network gets both a personal and a professional assessment. Professionally, I think this works for people who think of the Food Network as an entity from which they learn to cook. But for people who watch the channel primarily to watch the chefs work, it is the chef who has the credibility to deliver an effective endorsement. Not the network. A Food Network endorsement is just another form of “As Seen On TV.”

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

The immense popularity of so many current programs only begs for this kind of merchandising. This has been around for literally decades, however the reach of this programming is now global in some cases and can generate demand in all corners of the globe with an intense push from the network producers.

Consumers seem to love to flaunt their brand biases, whether apparel labels (How did this society become one that gladly buys a manufacturer’s clothing products with the mfr brand printed across the item, while the mfr laughs all the way to the bank with free advertising, or rather, paid advertising?!), cars or TV Shows.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Food Network is proving licensing deals are successful. Take a look in the cutlery section next time you go to a store that carries it. Watch the network and see the many and varied deals they are promoting. Maybe it is because the Food Network is so successful and carries a large viewership. I know my household has several products promoted by the largely popular celebrity chefs; and the TV is always on that network.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Some consumers are very loyal viewers of specific shows. If the right products that are attractive to those loyal consumers are used for merchandising it could be very effective.

Kai Clarke
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

This is OK for t-shirts, and short-lived items which people might want to purchase. But neither one of these niche TV brands has any real place on a retailer’s shelves. There is already enough retail noise in the channel where consumers have to choose between house branded items, national brands, regional brands and often niche brands which are leaders in a particular niche category. Throwing in a “TV” brand is almost absurd considering the speed at which these products are re-marketed on an annual or bi-annual basis.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
9 years 11 months ago

There is a huge opportunity here, and with all of the reality shows that continue to proliferate the airwaves, I think we will continue to see more and more deals controlled by the networks.

Look at what Bravo missed out on with Bethany. Bethany launched Skinny Girl margaritas while on Real Housewives of NY. She sold it recently for $150 million to Jim Beam. What was Bravo’s take on this? Zero. I don’t think they will make that mistake again.

Look for upfront licensing arrangements with show participants, production companies, show runners, etc. There are huge opportunities resulting in huge potential revenue generators.

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