Do women rule the Internet? There are good arguments for why they do: women are avid consumers and social networkers. Yet for some, women are chronically undervalued by marketers online.
If Stephanie Piche has a mission, underscoring the importance of women online is certainly one of them.
“Women are out there buying. Men don’t like to shop. That’s one of the challenges we have: talking to sponsors and advertisers,” Piche told me in an interview in January.
Piche is the founder and chief executive of Mingle Media TV Network, a site dedicated to live shows, web series and other video targeting women. Last month, MMTVN celebrated its one-year anniversary, and remains one of a few sites in its market.
Piche, who has been working in tech for over three decades, started MMTVN after leaving another site she started, Mom.TV. Piche said she perceived a hole in the market: there were few curated sites for professional video aimed at women.
“It’s been a pretty ignored area,” said Piche, citing sites like Crackle, Cracked and FunnyOrDie who are “looking for the 18-34 male.”
MMTVN streams over 40 live shows weekly and has nearly 50 web series on its roster. Among its live shows are such popular titles as Mamavation, a lifestyle show for mothers; and among its web series are the lesbian family series Out with Dad, black woman-centered thriller Celeste Bright (my interview here), and romantic comedy Cupid and Eros, whose creator, Avi Glijansky, said of MMTVN: “A lot of online TV networks are not curated well…[but] they are trying hard to have a very clear focus about what the brand is.”
In general, MMTVN covers a broad array of genres and topics, from fitness and couponing to makeovers and parenting. It also hits the red carpet as often as it can, interviewing celebrities at various events as a way to extend the brand and bring eyeballs to the website.
While by next year the network plans to have around 200 web series on its site, Piche said she spends a lot of time deciding what not to publish under MMTVN. “We do get a lot of people that submit to us,” she said, including a lot of “Jackass humor,” but “it just doesn’t flow with what we’re trying to do with our site,” she added. (Indeed, some research suggests viral humor skews male, in both subject and audience).
Largely staying away from pre-rolls, Piche is focusing on sponsorship. Right now, many of her deals focus on getting sponsors to offer promotions (gift cards, certificates) in conjunction with a variety of shows. Once she builds a relationship with a sponsor, she can ask for more investment.
“At the end of the day I go back to the marketing speak of ‘what’s in it for me?’ And you have to have a win-win,” Piche said.
By aligning brands with series, helping those series create more episodes, Piche hopes to grow the market for both the network and its programming.
“If you find your audience and build that audience, those people will watch what you create next.”