Sundance Channel to Double Its Unscripted Programming This Year
NEW YORK – The Sundance Channel has picked up a second season of the unscripted series Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, the network announced today at its upfront presentation for the media. The reality series – about women and their gay best friends and the emotional and social tensions that frame those friendships – peaked the social media meters, generating copious buzz on Twitter and Facebook (the official site has over 200,000 "likes").
The second season of the show begins casting in the coming weeks in Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tenn., and will be set in one or the other city. The first season took place in New York. The pickup comes as Sundance Channel is set to double the amount of unscripted programming this year to 80 hours.
The network unveiled a slate of new shows, including an unscripted series titled Garo, about East Village atelier Garo Sparo; Ludo Bites America, a road trip-cooking show hybrid with French chef Ludo Lefebvre(who catered Elton John's Oscar party); Quirky, about a product development company that lets its online community submit ideas for new inventions; and Shoebox Sessions, based on Dave Nadelberg and Neil Katcher's stage play Mortified, which has people reminiscing over artifacts from childhood. A preview featured Nadelberg and singer Alanis Morissette discussing a very bad poem she wrote in high school titled "Lungs." Each half-hour episode of Shoebox Sessions will feature two personalities.
The network's brand of reality television, which executive vp and general manager Sarah Barnett prefers to call "non-scripted," is not designed for mass appeal. Rather, Sundance, which is not currently Nielsen rated, is geared toward consumers "who live just between mainstream culture and emerging culture," explained Barnett. In other words, niche.
"With obvious exceptions, television is no longer a medium of the masses," added Evan Shapiro, president of IFC tv and Sundance Channel. "We embrace that because we think niche is the new mass."
Shapiro showed where Sundance Channel falls on the "media brandscape" via an X/Y graph -- on his iPad, of course. The net is enviably clustered among such high-brow pop culture brands, including Vanity Fair, Apple and Wired, which demonstrates a "high cultural connectedness," according to Shapiro.
And taking a cue from Bravo executives (who coined the brandspeak term "affluencer"), Sundance has christened its target viewer a "poptimist."
Explained Barnett: "Our audience is highly engaged. They drive new trends in the culture. They want programming with meaning and substance that also adds a little pop of fun."