You may not have heard of the TV network Z Living. It's a health and fitness channel available in eight countries and is affiliated with Indian conglomerate Zee Entertainment, but has yet to make a meaningful dent stateside.
You've probably heard of PopSugar, one of the strongest brands among millennial women, with some 44 million monthly uniques according to comScore.
Z Living is in need of programming. And that's where PopSugar comes in. The two have inked a wide-ranging production deal.
"I think the brands are really well aligned," said Rafe Oller, Z Living's general manager, who approached PopSugar Studios president David Grant when looking for ways to work together. "We've got a certain audience and a high level of engagement," Grant said.
PopSugar will create TV versions of their online series, including Class FitSugar. They'lll also develop a prime time series exclusively for Z Living. All of the shows will be branded 'PopSugar on Z Living.'
Fitness has become a major growth area for PopSugar which, in January, saw month over month growth of 36 percent, making it the top vertical for the multichannel network.
"We can all walk down any street in New York and L.A. and see the transformation that's happened over the last five years," said Grant. "It's a very high interest area for us, it's grown very fast."
The partnership isn't solely based on content however. Z Living and PopSugar are planning to offer advertisers the opportunity to buy across both properties. Grant, whose background is in traditional TV, said television still has the reach advertisers crave, but adds, "Brands and advertisers need a whole audience."
Here's how Grant sees that working: "Let's say we program an hour of three, 20-minute segments and we create native opportunities during that hour rather than the traditional 30-second spot," said Grant, who compares it to what Viceland is doing and what NBC and BuzzFeed did just the other night. "We both come from the heritage of really strong native content. There's an opportunity to experiment," he said.
For Z Living, the partnership is part of a larger goal to significantly grow distribution with quality content. Along with the PopSugar deal, Z Living has a development deal with the producers of The Biggest Loser which includes three shows: The Big Fat Truth, Finding Fido and Homegrown Wedding.
Oller came on board in September and boasts a long history in TV with stops at Fox, G4, and Warner Bros. In fact, Oller and Grant both worked at Fox in the early 2000s. Oller was svp of marketing for Fox TV, while Grant headed up Fox Studios.
Both are now laser-focused on the same audience; getting them to tune in is the challenge.
"To say that millennial women don't watch TV wouldn't be accurate," argues Oller, who said Z Living's average audience is 35 to 40 years old. "We're one of the younger skewing networks."
Z Living is currently available on major cable and telcom companies Verizon Fios, DISH and Cablevision, with pending deals with AT&T and Comcast. Oller expects it to be available in 40 million homes within two months, and 50 million by the end of the year.
"We don't view ourselves as a TV network, we view ourselves as a content provider," he said. "TV happens to be our main distribution platform right now."