Note: Katie Ackerman Buchanan is Vice President, Programming and Acquisitions for The Style Network. She is responsible for the programming and strategy for both the linear network and VOD platform. Katie manages the programming budget and oversees all acquisitions and co-productions for the network. She has brokered several high-profile acquisition deals including “Supernanny”, “Extreme Makeover,” and “The Biggest Loser”. Recently, Katie has managed several documentary deals including the P. Diddy “If I Were King” film, the BBC documentary “Too Fat for 15”, and the indie hit “Eleven Minutes”.
Katie also focuses on growing magazine and strategic partnerships for Style which most recently includes the Fashion Rocks event with Conde Nast and the production of last year’s Lucky Shops special in partnership with Lucky Magazine. Katie also negotiated and coordinated the recent production of (2) original Martha Stewart Wedding specials, and is responsible for a recent partnership with NBC’s Today show on the “Tips Today” series for Style.
Prior to Style, Buchanan worked at VH1 in their original movies & specials division . Katie received her MFA in Film from the California Institute of the Arts and began her career at MTV Networks in New York in the VH1 on-air promotions group.
We were lucky enough to get Katie to share some of her insights with CableU:
CU: What is the key element that makes a program right for your network?
KB: The program must tell a great story and have memorable characters in unique circumstances.
CU: What programs and/or genres are you looking for in the next year?
KB: Docuseries, makeover, home, and weight loss formats
CU: How important are other platforms like broadband and mobile applications in the initial pitch?
KB: Very important. It’s always good to have the new media rights availability discussion up front.
CU: What’s the best way for a producer to pitch you?
KB: Contact development folks directly. Most pitches come in through agencies.
CU: What do you look for in a first-time producer besides a great idea?
KB: It’s great when they’ve done their homework on the network and know our brand.
CU: What mistakes do producers make when pitching you?
KB: The meeting goes way too long and the idea is not clear and straight to the point.
CU: What can global programmers learn from the US cable network market and from your network in particular?
KB: We serve a very loyal audience, but understand they have hundreds of viewing choices so we need to feel unique, refreshing, and inspirational so they keep us top of mind.
CU: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
KB: Don’t try to counter-program against American Idol.
CU: What’s the best advice you’ve ever given?
KB: Say yes to every opportunity that is given or presented to you. You never know when it will pay off.
CU: Who in this industry do you most admire and why?
KB: I work for the best boss ever (Salaam Coleman Smith). She’s the smartest, most savvy, and fairest person I’ve ever met in this business.
CU: What’s the smartest programming decision you have ever made?
KB: Acquring the ABC hit, “Supernanny”.
CU: What’s the dumbest programming decision you have ever made?
KB: Trying to counter-program against American Idol.
CU: In all of television, which classic program should be revived?
KB: Charlie’s Angels
CU: Should NEVER be revived?
KB: Knot’s Landing