How VH1 Became a Linear, Digital, and Social Juggernaut

By Adam Flomenbaum 

VH1-logoLost Remote recently had the opportunity to meet with Dan Sacher and Jonathan Mallow, SVP and VP, respectively, of Connected Content at VH1. Sacher and Mallow walked through the network’s recent successes and future plans, and it is clear that the network is now a linear, digital, and social juggernaut.

In 2013, VH1 enjoyed triple-digit year-over-year follower growth on Facebook and Twitter, becoming the third-most social non-cable sports network. The executives attributed part of their success to VH1’s willingness to experiment, take advantage of what’s trending, and employ a 24/7, 365 approach to social programming around shows. The network focuses not only on building buzz for upcoming episodes, but also on leveraging its digital assets – including and the VH1 app – to host exclusive content and keep fans of shows engaged throughout the rest of the week and the year.

The soundness of this approach is reflected in the numbers. Linear ratings are up 33% in the coveted 18-49 demo, and the average time that visitors to spend with video is more than double that of visitors to Bravo or TLC (129% and 136% more, respectively), and more than six times that of E! (550% more).

For VH1, linear, social, and digital continue to converge. The network just announced a new reality series, ‘#CandidlyNicole,’ which will follow Nicole Richie as she brings to life things that she has tweeted. Think ‘The Simple Life’ – which launched Richie’s career – for the modern audience. #CandidlyNicole began as an AOL web series, and the VH1 version will premiere on July 17. For networks, optioning a successful web series for linear TV will likely be a growing trend. During our conversation, Mallow agreed that it is an avenue that VH1 will continue to explore.

It will be interesting to see whether VH1 can sustain its impressive growth in 2014, but its all-encompassing linear, digital, and social strategy already places it far ahead of most traditional cable networks.