MEDIA ANALYSIS: Less sleaze and more personality

Men’s magazine Nuts has launched a TV channel, but is aiming for a wider audience. Suzy Bashford looks at its tone and the best way for PROs to make a pitch.

Nuts TV: the live channel is seeking ‘cheeky, humorous and honest’ content
Nuts TV: the live channel is seeking ‘cheeky, humorous and honest’ content

Newsflash: the newly launched Nuts TV is not all about boobs, buxom blondes, beer and blokes. No, according to Nuts TV director of programming Joe Talbot, the channel is going for a wider audience than its magazine sibling and aims to appeal to girlfriends as much as the core audience of twenty­something males.

‘We don’t do nudity,’ he insists. ‘We can’t. If we did, it would look like soft porn and we want to be sexy, not sleazy. We are cheeky and humorous and we absolutely cannot just concentrate on men.’

Having said that, attractive girls prancing around in their underwear will remain a key component of the brand as it moves to broadcast. However, Talbot stresses that – unlike the one-dimensional print medium – the TV channel will give more of a sense of the girls’ personalities.

‘We want to show that the girls are funny and interesting. Nuts TV is all about surprising the audience,’ he says. As an example, he cites the programme Books at Bedtime, an att­empt to ‘bring culture to the masses’ by having glamour model Lucy Pinder draped on a bed reading excerpts from Shakespeare and HG Wells. Another commission that he argues is more ‘personality-based’ is Fit and Fearless, where a gaggle of girls visit haunted homes around the UK accompanied by a ­psychic medium.

News agenda
As a live TV channel, Nuts TV hopes to stand out on the Electronic Programme Guide and to react to news events as they happen. The live programming starts at 9pm every evening with Rude News, a round-up of quirky, irreverent stories from all over the globe. This is a particularly good slot for PROs to target, as the team is constantly on the hunt for leads.

Talbot advises PROs to think about stories that focus on well-known personalities or that can be easily distilled into a 30-60 second burst. Turnaround is quick, so if a story is app­ropriate it can go on air almost immediately. Similarly, the production team will be continually looking for good competition prizes.

‘They have to be relevant to the audience and get them excited. Prizes such as hot tubs and mobile phones, for example, not holidays to Uzbekistan,’ suggests Talbot.

Advertiser-funded programming (AFP) will also be an important part of the channel’s future strategy. Talbot is already drawing on his experience gained as a commissioner at ITV to put together AFP proposals. The channel is currently in discussions with advertisers about football-related content ideas. PROs should suggest ideas that span broadcast, broadband, mobile and print. Content needs to work in clip form too.

As well as girls and football, other blokey fare such as gadgets, cars, music, entertainment, celebrity and comedy are typical Nuts TV fodder. It is keen not to be seen as London-centric, which is why it has recruited regional presenters and is interested in covering events nationwide.
The channel has a live music studio and wants to feature musicians that embrace its ‘warts and all’ coverage of their performance by showing them in the make-up room before they go on stage and talking to the cameras at the bar afterwards.

Every night from Tuesday to Saturday, new products are reviewed and sport is discussed. Regardless of the subject matter, Talbot says that the ‘undercurrent of everything we do is humorous and honest banter’. He says: ‘We are not afraid to say if something is rubbish or sing from the tree tops if it’s really good. But we never want to be seen as corny or predictable.’

But it is not the threat of a bad review that worries PROs so much as the context of these reviews. From the ‘titillating’ style of the channel that he has seen so far, Hotwire’s head of consu­mer Paul Naphtali is concerned that the treatment of the gadget might garner more attention than the item itself does: ‘The TV is a very different proposition to the magazine. In the magazine there is a specific page for gadgets, they are not placed between models’ breasts or in the cracks of their bottoms. With a time slot of 9pm to 1am, viewers are potentially watching for a certain type of content.

‘I would want to know if viewers are really ­taking in the gadget, or just waiting for the next shot of talent. The jury’s still out on whether product-related coverage is just filler,’ he says.

Viewing figures
Question marks also hang over the demographic and number of viewers Nuts TV will reach when the dust settles. On its 12 September opening night, it averaged 9,000 viewers and a 0.1 per cent audience share, with its peak of 26,000 at 10.45pm. However, Talbot expects figures to rise sharply after Christmas, when more households switch to digital. And, despite their relatively low ratings, PROs agree that niche channels and the trend towards web TV cannot be ignored.

Crissie Bushell, events and celebrity manager at EdenCancan, was initially very sceptical when approached by the Nuts TV production team about her client Caprice appearing on the channel.

‘I ummed and ahed because a new show is always a risk and we didn’t want it to just be about her boobs and being blonde, we wanted it to be about Cap­rice as a business woman,’ she says.
Bushell spent much time ‘grilling’ producers, who she found very co-operative, and secured guarantees about how Caprice would be depicted. The producers were thorough in their res­earch, ensuring they gained Bushell’s approval for their plans, and ultimately stuck to their word: Caprice was interviewed about her lingerie range, while it was modelled by someone else.

‘We were really pleased. It wasn’t just “aw yeah, let’s see Caprice in her lingerie”,’ she says. ‘They did show her personality and were very good to work with.’

CONTACT ADVICE...

Editorial queries: contact Darren Lamb: E darren.lamb@etv.tv; T 020 7501 1555

Commercial offers: contact Damon Letzer: E damon.letzer@turner.com; T 020 7693 1332

The best time to contact the team is between 4pm and 6pm. Email in the first instance is best, but PROs should not hesitate to call if they have a time-sensitive story that needs to be turned around quickly.

Nuts TV is available on Freeview channel 42 and airs from 9pm-1am daily. It is a joint venture between Turner Broadcasting, Ipc Ignite and content producer Etv.

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