The Pregnancy Pact and Project Runway aren't enough to cut it: Lifetime is struggling with increased competition, plus sagging ratings and advertising. And its uneven glamorous makeover may have alienated its base.
The CEO who engineered the high-priced Project Runway deal — which hasn't so far justified its investment — is out at the network. This would be the same executive who presided over the change in logo to "Connect. Play. Share." (Seriously.) The The Los Angeles Times found even more former insiders willing to theorize on what else went wrong:
"There were a lot of people at Lifetime who wanted our viewer to be hipper and more fashionable," said Brent Poer, a former marketing executive at Lifetime.... "That just wasn't who they were."
Or maybe it just had boy trouble — with its corporate structure, that is:
"Lifetime is the girl that goes from boyfriend to boyfriend too much," said Susanne Daniels, a former president of entertainment at the network who left in 2008. "Why can't it get married to someone who cares and wants to be in it for the long haul?"
Other metaphors in the piece include clothes (the kicker is "it could be back to the closet for Lifetime in search of yet another new outfit"), makeup (the channel "struggled for years to change from plain Jane to glamour girl") and shoes ("sensible shoes or stilettos?"). Just us girls stuff, obviously.
But seriously, with more niche offerings from Bravo, Oxygen, WE, Style Network, TLC, and soon, Oprah's channel, not to mention on demand entertainment and the Internet, what is Lifetime, Television For Women's raison d'etre? What could they offer that you would watch?
Or maybe Lifetime already has the answer and doesn't know it yet. Per their own executive vice president of programming:
"It forces you to have to be better and to do the types of shows that break through," she said, citing "Drop Dead Diva," about a bratty model who dies in a car accident and is brought back to life as a full-figured attorney. The show, Lifetime's most popular original series last year, "takes a plus-sized woman . . . and [makes] her fun and sexy. That is a way to speak to our core audience," Alfano said