Glee: The Brand

Fox – who had already reinvented the making-money-off-a-TV-show paradigm with American Idol – now see Glee as their next fatted calf, as per this insightful feature from The Hollywood Reporter.  It’s not just a show about some high school kids who like to sing and dance any more.  It’s a cross-platform marketing juggernaut:

“Just one look around the table at the Gleekly meeting reveals the scope of how mammoth, complicated and promising the show is. In fact, to call it a mere show seems a misnomer. For Glee, gone is the old TV model of making money only off ads (nearly $300,000 per 30-second spot and rising) and syndication. Glee is a brand that, through its inventive packaging of music and the mall-ready charisma of its stars, has redefined how big a TV business can be. Among the participants at the table: the head of consumer products, playing show and tell with the new line of Glee-branded Sephora nail polish; a representative from home entertainment, passing around a Target circular featuring the Season 2, Vol. 1 DVD (the chain accounts for 25% of Glee’s entertainment sales); and vps from publicity, digital (Glee has the No. 1 iPad app) and international, touting the latest numbers out of the U.K., which make Glee the country’s most-watched U.S. series, outperforming Desperate Housewives, Lost and CSI (good news, considering the Glee tour is headed to London’s O2 arena in the summer and promoter Live Nation anticipates successive sellouts). Also on tap: a June reality show on Oxygen awarding a Glee guest role.”

Glee has had a huge cultural impact, on everything from sales of Journey’s back catalogue to attitudes towards gay teens. It’s also caused a lot of controversy for its depictions of teen sexuality – a major consideration given that a big proportion of the audience is under 13. Given the fiscal pressures (Fox is now spending $3.2 to $3.8 million per episode), that means its creators have had to reconsider the responsibilities they have towards their audience (and their potentially angry parents). The last thing they want is a Parents Television Council-led backlash like the one against the MTV version of Skins. Says Ryan Murphy:”“From now on, I will sweat every single word and how we’re presenting it.”

Oh, and Murphy’s reaction to that GQ cover? “It wasn’t great for the brand”.

Inside the Hot Business of ‘Glee’ – The Hollywood Reporter