Rogers Media is adding what a senior executive describes as “sizzle and pizazz” to Omni’s prime time lineup this fall as it attempts to turn around the struggling multicultural channel.
At its annual upfront presentation Tuesday, Rogers outlined a new programming strategy for Omni that includes a Chinese version of Glee, the 10-episode reality series Planet’s Got Talent, and a newly commissioned Chinese-language series called Blood and Water.
Colette Watson, vice-president of television and broadcast operations at Rogers Media (which owns Marketing), said the objective is to create a “fun, engaging and entertaining” prime time lineup for the over-the-air service.
“We believe in Omni,” said Watson, who joined Rogers in December after spending 14 years as president and general manager of the Cable Public Affairs Channel. “In this global environment diversity is mainstream now, so I need to program a TV station like Omni the same way I would program City.”
Omni has shed a reported $45 million in advertising revenue over the past two years. Earlier this month, Rogers cut approximately 110 jobs across its Omni and City operations, and eliminated Omni’s multicultural newscasts, replacing them with current affairs shows.
Watson said Omni has experienced a “mild decline” in 2+ ratings in those time slots, but the dip was expected as the shows continue to find their audience.
The revamped lineup is aimed at attracting younger audiences. “The old audience was traditional, and in order for us to survive in the long-term I need to bring in second and third-generation [viewers],” she said. “It’s a whole new programming strategy, and we’re going to give it a shot.”
Other additions to the Omni schedule include Kitty Talk, Kama Sutra and an Indian version of the episodic drama 24. It will also continue to show select English programming, such as the Fox TV drama Empire, in prime time.
Watson said the programming shift is one of the most radical changes in strategy in Omni’s history, but is necessary for the channel is to successfully adapt to the new broadcast environment. “I really do believe in this,” she said. “Change was necessary – the status quo wasn’t working. People can have their opinion on whether it’s good or bad, but I think it will be great.”