CBS Reality

Sam Rowden is director of programming, Reality and new media at Chellomedia. She speaks to TBIvision about the recently-launched CBS Reality channel.

Describe your channel

CBS Reality is ‘Inspired by Life’, from crime and real life drama to the unexplained. It is a channel that brings you true life stories, events and characters that offer an entertaining and sometimes moving insight into the world around us. We have the same focus for our Zone Reality channel, which is broadcast across EMEA, South Africa the Middle East.

What is the target demo?

We have a broad adult appeal, 25-to-54, with a very loyal following from females aged 35 and over.

How many homes does the channel reach?

More than 13 million homes across the UK via Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media.


What’s the most successful show?

We have a number of series which we are proud of and have become popular staples on the channel, including Cops – one of the longest running series in US television; beach lifeguard reality show Bondi Rescue; the iconic CBS talk show Dr Phil; Crossing Over with John Edward – featuring the industry’s most successful psychic; and UK premiere series of The Jerry Springer Show.

What have you acquired recently?

We are in the process of acquiring a number of exciting titles and in the meantime we’ll be premiering the CBS series Hard Evidence: 48 Hours – US television’s most popular true-crime programme, which has won 17 Emmy awards.

Do you have any long term programming deals and who with?

As part of Chello Zone’s new partnership with CBS – the CBS Chello UK Channels joint venture – we now have access to an amazing library of CBS programmes. Outside of this we acquire third party programming from a vast array of distributors and producers.

What’s currently on your shopping list?

Ghost Cops would be my ultimate choice of series, a hybrid of our favourite types of shows – if only it existed!

Our schedules are well stocked for 2010, with lots of returning favourites and new series. We are, however, always looking to refresh our primetime strands – Rescue at 18:00, 20:00 Crime and 21:00 Paranormal – with new programmes.

What’s the buying cycle at the channel?

We acquire all year round. As a smaller channel it is important for us to be flexible and either move quickly or in some cases wait for the post market frenzy to subside.

Who is the person in charge of acquisitions?

I am, with help from my programming coordinator, Susie Davies.

How important are digital/new media rights?

These rights are important to our platform providers in the UK and rest of the world and therefore they are important to us. Subscribers want to watch the programming where and when they want to and we need to be able to provide this to stay in the market going forward.

In my experience VOD is showing the most growth via the TV (which is obviously a more pleasurable viewing experience) rather than via the Internet. We have had Reality programming available via both means in the past and we are always keen to try out new ways of utilizing our programming that will appeal to our audiences and compliment our existing services.

What’s the best way for producers/distributors to pitch?

Via email to myself and/or Susie Davies with a synopsis or treatment, including details of where the programming is available. This allows us the option to request a screener if the programming looks interesting for CBS Reality or Zone Reality.

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