Upfronts 2015: USA Network targeting viewers with 'millennial mindset'

Upfronts 2015: USA Network targeting viewers with 'millennial mindset'
Savannah Chrisley, Chase Chrisley, Todd Chrisley, Julie Chrisley, Lindsie Chrisley Campbell and Grayson Chrisley of USA's "Chrisley Knows Best." (USA Network / Andrew Eccles/USA Network)

USA Network is getting into the millennial game.

At an upfront breakfast Tuesday in Manhattan, network president Chris McCumber announced that USA is "targeting people that have a millennial mindset."


"A network called USA should reflect the character and spirit of what's happening in this country right now," he told journalists at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Plaza. "We've just gone through a massive change in the demographics. Two-thirds of the 18 to 49 audience is made up of millennials."

Millennials, McCumber continued, "are unified by a set of values: confidence, perseverance, self-reliance, optimism, bravery. We love the term 'bravery.' It really reflects USA and the country."

The network, once known for breezy hourlong procedurals such as "Burn Notice" and "Royal Pains," has over two years made an aggressive push to diversity its programming, adding reality ("Chrisley Knows Best"), half-hour comedy ("Sirens," "Playing House"), serialized dramas ("Graceland") and miniseries ("Dig").

The efforts have met with mixed results, and now USA appears to be fine-tuning its approach by going after the elusive millennial audience with shows centered on unconventional heroes.

A key part of that strategy is an expansion of its drama offerings. This summer will bring two edgy new series: "Mr. Robot," a hacker drama created by Sam Esmail and starring Rami Malek and Christian Slater, and "Complications," a medical thriller from "Burn Notice" creator Matt Nix and starring Jessica Szohr and Jason O'Mara.

This fall, the network will launch "Colony," a drama set in an occupied Los Angeles in the near future featuring "Lost" star Josh Holloway.

"As we're developing our shows, as we're finding new characters, we want to find those unexpected heroes who bravely go up against the odds," McCumber said.

USA announced just one new scripted comedy at the presentation, a sitcom called "Donny!" starring advertising executive Donny Deutsch.

USA also announced two new pilots with Todd Chrisley, whose family is featured in the series "Chrisley Knows Best." The network is developing a late-night talk show hosted by Chrisley and a spinoff of "Chrisley Knows Best" centered on the Chrisley family.

The network will expand its coverage of professional wrestling with a deal to bring "WWE SmackDown" to USA in early 2016. USA currently airs the reality competition series "WWE Tough Enough" and the long-running "WWE Monday Night Raw." USA also announced it is developing an unscripted series with former pro wrestler turned movie star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

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