As SVP Programming and Production, Scott Woodward will oversee Ovation’s multi-platform content, including scheduling and program planning, acquisitions, co-productions, development, original programming, on-air promotions, VOD and the networks’s digital operations. He will also oversee the arts network’s in-house multi-platform, production unit, Ovation Studios, which launched last May. The unit has produced the network’s series The Art Of, Culture Pop and Broadway Bash. He will report directly to CEO Charles Segars. Before joining Ovation, Woodward served as VP, Programming and Production at TVGN and was responsible for the network’s re-launch in 2004. Previously, Woodward was an executive producer at E! Entertainment Television for domestic, international and online series and specials.
EXCLUSIVE: Chief Creative Officer Rob Weiss is leaving Ovation, CEO Charles Segars told the arts cable channel’s staff in a praise heavy email today, I’ve learned. The resignation of the former digital media and FX exec was his decision and will take place soon, an insider says. Weiss boarded the newly created CCO gig back in early December 2012 to oversee the creative and strategic thrust of the struggling arts and culture network. During his time there Ovation re-branded itself and started airing more original programming like James Franco Presents and A Young Doctor’s Notebook starring Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe. The cable net also saw itself dumped from Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in early 2013 just after its carriage contract expired. The move, which resulted in big layoffs at Ovation, was part of TWC boss Glenn Britt’s plan to drop poor-performing networks as a way to control costs. The cable giant welcomed Ovation back last month after getting the commitments it made this spring to go from the 46 hours of originals it had in 2012 to more than 200 hours of original programming dedicated to the arts next year. As a part of the TWC/BHN deal, Ovation is then going to grow to 250 hours in 2015 and 300 each year afterwards. Ovation will reappear on TWC and …
Ovation will be back on Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks systems and has committed to carry 200 or more hours of original programming dedicated to the arts in 2014, 250 hours in 2015 and 300 each year after. The arts-focused network was the guinea pig for TWC boss Glenn Britt’s plan to drop poor-performing networks as a way to control costs, dumping the arts-focused network when its previous carriage contract expired at the end of 2012. “Ovation is among the poorest performing networks, and is viewed by less than 1% of our customers on any given day,” the No. 2 cable operator said when it announced it was cutting off Ovation. “We’ve paid more than $10 million in carriage fees to Ovation over the past several years. They’ve had ample opportunity to improve the ratings and the content, and have failed to deliver.” One of TWC’s biggest beefs with Ovation was the lack of original programming. But the network has learned its lesson since: the commitment to the original hours comes after it launched an in-house production studio Ovation Studios. Among the new offerings will be a James Franco-hosted series James Franco Presents which premieres next month.
Arts network Ovation continues to expand its marketing division with the appointment of Kristina Levsky as VP Public Relations and Corporate Communications. Levsky will head up Ovation’s newly created PR department, reporting to Evan Minskoff, SVP, Head of Marketing and Brand Strategy. In her new role, Levsky will lead the development and implementation of all communications strategy across all Ovation divisions. She will oversee Ovation’s consumer and business media initiatives, as well as all corporate communications, award campaigns, speaking engagements and media tours. Levsky most recently founded communications and media relations consultancy Influencer PR Group. She previously handled consumer public relations at NBC Universal’s G4 TV as Sr. Publicist where she was responsible for all program PR on the linear channel and G4TV.com.
Arts cable channel Ovation has picked up off-network rights to NBC’s recently cancelled series Smash. The first season of the Broadway drama will debut on Ovation on July 19, airing Fridays at 8 PM, with Season 2 set for a November premiere. “Smash is exactly the kind of art-centric programming that Ovation’s viewers crave,” said Ovation chief creative officer Robert Weiss.” Ovation is available in almost 50 million homes; it was dropped by Time Warner able at the beginning of the year.
Arts network Ovation said during its upfront presentation today that it will premiere nine new original series this summer and fall. It also unveiled 16 more series in the works for 2014. The ramp-up will see 236 hours of original fare produced this year compared with 46 hours in 2012, which was double the amount in 2011. With this seismic shift in our programming focus, we are making the leap to become a full-service arts network — America’s only arts network”, said Robert Weiss, Ovation’s Chief Creative Officer, who made the announcements today. The majority of programming will be produced at the network’s new Ovation Studios in Santa Monica. The network also revealed a new tagline: Art Everywhere. Here are descriptions of five of the network’s new shows (the rest will be announced in June) and the development slate:
EXCLUSIVE: Ovation laid off employees in its Santa Monica office Friday, a month after Time Warner dumped the arts channel from its lineup citing poor ratings and a less-than-compelling programming slate. Reps would not confirm the size of today’s staff cuts but sources say layoffs hit 20-25 employees — almost a fourth of its 95-person corps. Chief Creative Officer Robert Weiss confirms to Deadline that the layoffs are the first wave of a company-wide reorganization that will affect its LA, Chicago, and New York offices as Ovation whittles its resources in order to relaunch stronger programming initiatives in 2013 and 2014, a must if the six-year-old cable arts outpost is going to survive the Time Warner blow-off.
The arts channel went dark on the No. 2 cable company’s systems yesterday, although Crown Media’s Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel — which were also on the bubble — survived with a last-minute, long-term carriage deal. But Time Warner Cable warns subscribers in an online notice today that there’s no guarantee it will continue to carry several other channels whose contracts expire soon including mainstays such as E!, Lifetime, and Starz, and a bevy of international services. While AMC Networks-owned IFC and WEtv made it into 2013 on Time Warner Cable, they’re still in jeopardy — along with soccer channel GOL TV — as part of CEO Glenn Britt’s campaign to rationalize the company’s bloated channel offerings. Former Vice President Al Gore’s Current TV also remains in danger, although it survived a possible year-end purge. Other channels Time Warner Cable identified as being under review include Encore, Music Choice, News 12, NHL Network, ShopNBC, Smithsonian HD, and Style Network. Last month, Britt said at an investor conference that his company is “going to take a hard look at each service and those services that cost too much relative to the viewership, we’re going to drop them.” With the economy “bouncing along the bottom,” he said that “the consumer is telling us that we can’t afford these prices anymore.”
UPDATED: This seems to be what Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt was talking about this month when he threatened to drop some channels as a way to control costs. The cable company has informed Ovation that it will be dumped at the end of the year, when its contract expires. “Ovation is among the poorest performing networks, and is viewed by less than 1% of our customers on any given day,” the No. 2 cable operator says. “We’ve paid more than $10 million in carriage fees to Ovation over the past several years. They’ve had ample opportunity to improve the ratings and the content, and have failed to deliver.” It adds that Ovation’s not as arts-oriented as it claims: “One 7-day period in November 2012 shows that 70% of their schedule was old movies that are repeated, numerous repeats of the PBS show Antique Road Show, Infomercials that are unrelated to the arts, and repeats of TV shows from broadcast networks….Just as broadcast and cable networks make decisions to cancel or move shows that fail to perform, we are obliged to make the same decisions with networks.” Ovation doesn’t buy Time Warner Cable‘s cost-control argument. “While they are investing huge amounts in sports programming, they’ve chosen to limit their customers’ viewing options by cutting the only arts network in their lineup,” Ovation’s EVP Content Distribution Brad Samuels says. “Ultimately, we hope that Time Warner Cable will see the value our other Affiliate partners see in Ovation and will reconsider their decision.”
ITV Studios America has appointed Rob Shaftel as SVP Development (East Coast). Based in ITV Studios America’s New York office, he will develop new programming for the U.S. broadcast and cable markets, reporting to Bruce Robertson, head of development for ITV Studios America. Shaftel was previously VP Development at unscripted production company Leftfield Pictures and worked in program development at Discovery.