ATF Buyer Profile: Universal Networks International


PREMIUM: Marianne Lee, the director of programming and acquisitions at Universal Networks International in Asia, shares her buying strategy for a portfolio that includes DIVA Universal.

What have been some of your most successful acquisitions recently?
The Face on DIVA Universal. We have rights to broadcast the U.S. season one and two first and exclusively. My Kitchen Rules on DIVA Universal. The Australian cooking-competition won the prestigious Logie Awards for two years running as the most popular reality program in Australia. My Kitchen Rules has been a ratings winner on DIVA Universal since it launched first and exclusively on the channel for Asian audiences in 2012. Universal Channel's Bates Motel is another successful acquisition which has proven sticky with our viewers across Southeast Asia.

Can you give me a sense of how much you buy annually?
We buy for three channels so there is a certain volume.

What are the main genres you are acquiring?
A variety of programming for the broad spectrum of entertainment that we deliver on our channels E!, DIVA Universal, Style, Universal Channel and Syfy. We tend to look out for character-centric series for Universal Channel, and entertaining competition reality series in addition to the uplifting dramas with strong female characters on DIVA.

Are you acquiring formats from the international market?
Acquiring formats is also a big consideration for our Asia Pacific market as our ratings and brand trackers show that localized formats are popular among local audiences. We also acquire local formats like Supermodelme.

Have your programming needs changed significantly over the past year?
Digital rights—we need to consider second screen viewing and more.