E!’s Adam Stotsky

Adam Stotsky, the president of E! Entertainment and Esquire Network, tells TV Real about building the E! brand into a full-fledged pop-culture powerhouse.

The E! Entertainment network has carved a space for itself as a leader in keeping audiences plugged into all things pop culture. Part of the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment bouquet, E! is home to signature programs such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians and its related spin-offs, E! News and Live from the Red Carpet events. Alongside the linear network, E! extends across digital and social platforms.

***Image***TV REAL: What’s driving the original programming strategy for E! currently?
STOTSKY: From an overall macro-strategy standpoint, our goal is to continue to build E! into a global, multiplatform, pop-culture powerhouse. The way that we do that is by focusing on three strategic pillars. This first is prime time. We’re redoubling our efforts in prime time and building out multiple nights of prime-time assets. That’s still where the majority of the business from an advertising perspective and an audience perspective is. Over the last couple of years we’ve focused a significant amount of our resources on building out multiple nights of prime-time originals.

Pillar two is to build the category-killing multiplatform news franchise. About a year and a half ago we integrated E! News with our digital offering to create a totally integrated, multiplatform, digital publishing entity that connects with Millennial women in and around the subject matter that they’re most passionate about, which is celebrity, pop-culture and entertainment news, on any and every platform that they engage with. It’s one news unit that publishes across platforms, inclusive of the TV platform.

Pillar three is that if our goal is to be a pop-culture powerhouse, we have to be up close and personal at seminal pop-culture events. We’ve expanded our Live from the Red Carpet franchise, from eight to about a dozen events this year. We’re covering all the big award shows in Hollywood in the film, TV and music spaces, of course—Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, Grammys—and then we’ve complemented that with our twice-annual focus on New York Fashion Week. We’ve expanded that yet again this year with a first-of-its-kind Live from the Red Carpet broadcast from the Met Gala.

Our strategy is to focus on those three areas, and we do that, first and foremost, by focusing on some of TV’s most buzz-worthy unscripted franchises—Keeping Up with the Kardashians being the anchor. Over the last couple of years we’ve done a terrific job of diversifying that offering with shows and franchises. Botched, for example, we’re spinning off with a show this summer called Botched by Nature. We’re expanding on Total Divas with a new show called Total BellasHollywood Medium with Tyler Henry is coming back for a second season in August. We’ve seen great traction with a new addition called Famously Single. We’re also diversifying our programming offering beyond unscripted and news into the scripted space with the third cycle of The Royals, and we have our second scripted series coming in 2017 called The Arrangement.

TV REAL: How much of the schedule is original programs?
STOTSKY: On any given day, 85 to 90 percent of our program schedule is original content, both with premieres and repeats. We complement that with some strategic movies that Millennial women are passionate about. The majority of our schedule is currently original, so we feel good about our commitment to the number of hours.

TV REAL: How is the channel scheduled across the dayparts and across the week?
STOTSKY: The business for us is really in prime time. That prime-time focus is bookended by E! News—we start our prime time with an E! News live broadcast and we close it ‪at 11 p.m. with an E! News broadcast. We have a fortunate opportunity to sandwich our prime-time content with fresh E! News content every night of the week.

We’ve focused our original unscripted franchises on Sunday, which continues to be an anchor for us, led by the continued strength of Kardashians. About a year ago we expanded that out into a second night of original programming, and going forward we’re focused on building up Sunday and Wednesday nights with originals year-round and in the coming years [we are] looking to expand that even further.

We use the non-prime dayparts principally as sampling opportunities for our original series. We know that our audience loves to binge. When you’re talking about juicy, soapy stuff like the world of the Kardashians, you can fall into one episode and find yourself sitting on your couch six hours later deeply entwined with their dramatic comings and goings. We like vertical stacking; we like the opportunity to allow our audience to binge.

TV REAL: What’s the strategy behind building out E!’s key franchises?
STOTSKY: When we see success, our initial inclination is to build on that success and expand it. We’ve done that several times over with the Kardashian franchise, whether it’s with Take MiamiTake New YorkTake the HamptonsRob & ChynaRevenge Body coming up in 2017 with Khloé or even with I Am Cait. This is a family that we know a sizable amount of our audience cares about deeply, so it’s incumbent upon us to make sure we’re telling all the stories we possibly can, obviously without wearing things out but giving the audience more of what they tell us they love.

E! News is our anchor franchise and we’ve blown that out not just on air, but across multiple platforms with a singular experience and voice across all of those touch points. Live from the Red Carpet as a franchise started with awards shows, but has been expanded out to other adjacent passion points that we know our audience cares about, fashion and style being one of them.

Alongside Total Divas and Botched, we’re in a spin-off right now of #RichKids of Beverly Hills with EJ Johnson. WAGS is in its second cycle, performing quite well for us. Later on this summer we’ll be expanding that world outside of L.A. and into Miami with WAGS: Miami.

Our responsibility is to ensure that we’re telling all the stories we possibly can and building our shows into ideas that extend well beyond the original manifestation.

TV REAL: In what ways are you extending the E! channel brand into the digital space and connecting with audiences outside of the linear service?
STOTSKY: What we’re doing with E! News is really helping to pave the path for the entire business. Increasingly, we have to think of ourselves as multiplatform publishers. We know that Millennial women are very comfortable with multiple media, multiple points of distribution, multiple devices, and we are working with our distribution partners, our cable-operating partners, to ensure we’re using each platform to its fullest. We’re thinking about ourselves less and less as a television brand and more and more as a multiplatform video publisher. E! News is leading the way in that strategy.

TV REAL: What’s next for the channel, as you look toward the rest of 2016 and into 2017 and beyond?
STOTSKY: Our team is laser-focused on building E! as a brand into a worldwide pop-culture category-killer. We broadcast to 160 countries around the globe, which puts us in a unique position to own the category worldwide. That’s the mission that drives us every day.

There are certain initiatives that will help us do that. We’re very excited about our upcoming series with Mariah Carey [titled Mariah’s World]. I think Rob & Chyna will be a terrific expansion of the Kardashian world. We’re very excited to partner with Cosmopolitan magazine and Joanna Coles for a show called Cosmo Life. I think Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry is going to go from strength to strength. He’s extremely compelling, and the show provides interesting and deeper insight into Hollywood celebs.

We also know that our audience is not only passionate about music and film and all the respective characters and celebs in that world, but also about the world of sports. We’ve seen that with Total Divas [set in the WWE] and WAGS [an acronym for wives and girlfriends of sports stars]. We’ve got two other shows coming up in the sports world that are expanding the definition of what E!’s all about. We have a dating show called Catching Kelce, which features Kansas City Chiefs NFL star Travis Kelce. He’s an incredibly successful, very accomplished NFL star. He also happens to be so handsome and charming. We also have Hollywood & Football, focusing on the newly transplanted L.A. Rams [football team] as the players and their families relocate from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

We’re also excited to be building out our scripted slate with The Arrangement, which is coming in 2017. We’re expanding upon what works for us and what we know our audience is deeply passionate about.