'Loser' gains with brand expansion

NBC series packs on health and fitness books, magazine, DVDs, club

NBC's "The Biggest Loser" got off to a solid start in its fourth installment this fall, quickly earning a fifth-cycle pickup. But its producers at Reveille are not relying solely on the show's on-air performance to keep it going. Rather, they have been working to build "Loser" into a health and lifestyle brand with diet and fitness books, magazines, DVDs, an online club and licensed products, including bathroom and kitchen scales.

Extending the "Loser" brand helps market and build awareness for the show, said Mark Koops, co-managing director of Reveille, the production company founded by NBC chief Ben Silverman.

"Creating a brand and a franchise in the burgeoning health and lifestyle space definitely helps support the television show and makes it easier to grab attention in the fall, when a thousand new shows are launching and everyone is clamoring for the same space," Koops said.

In turn, the television show drives sales of books, DVDs, fitness club memberships and licensed product. "It's definitely significant additional revenue for both NBC and Reveille," Koops said. "As people look at the changing landscape of network television and as NBC looks at the bottom line, it's powerful to be able to show a variety of revenue streams."

"Loser" is produced by Reveille, 25/7 Prods. and 3Ball Prods., but Reveille owns and operates the "Loser" brand.

The extension of the brand began in March 2005 with the publication of "The Biggest Loser Book," just five months after the first season aired. It sold about 200,000 copies and spent 14 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. "The Biggest Loser Cookbook," published in October 2006, sold 125,000 copies and spent 12 weeks on the Times' best-seller list. "The Biggest Loser Fitness Program" hit bookstores two weeks ago and contains tips from the show's contestants, trainers and medical staff.

The Biggest Loser magazine's first issue sold more than 218,000 copies when it went on sale in December, and the second edition has sold more than 185,000 copies since it hit newsstands in August.

Reveille and NBC, in partnership with Lionsgate, released in December 2005 "The Biggest Loser: The Workout DVD," which sold 350,000 copies and became the top-selling fitness DVD of 2006. "The Biggest Loser: The Workout DVD — 2" hit store shelves in December, selling 125,000 units and becoming the No. 1 fitness DVD in the first half of 2007. Two more titles, "The Biggest Loser Cardio Max DVD" and "The Biggest Loser Power Sculpt DVD," are due to be released in December. Trainers and contestants lead the workouts in the DVDs.

The Biggest Loser Online Club — which offers detailed meal and fitness plans, access to experts and past contestants from the show, support groups and daily tips — has 75,000 members, with 17,000 joining since this season's premiere Sept. 11. Koops said the club is now the third-most-popular health and lifestyle subscription site online, after Weight Watchers and WebMD.

This month, bathroom and kitchen scales from Homedics' Taylor division will hit retail shelves at Wal-Mart, major department stores and drug stores. Koops also said that Reveille is in discussions with fitness equipment and apparel manufacturers about creating "Loser"-branded products.