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Lionsgate Flexes Franchise Muscles

27 Sep, 2008 By: Angelique Flores

From “The Biggest Loser” to “Dancing With the Stars” and Dirty Dancing, Lionsgate is building a fitness empire on workouts tied to television shows and now a film.

The latest entry is American Gladiators: Ultimate Workout. The DVD streets Dec. 16 (prebook Nov. 19) at $16.98, right before the show’s third-season premiere in January.

These DVDs give fans of the shows the chance to experience the TV show as the contestants at home, said Kajsa Vikman, VP of home entertainment marketing and fitness for Lionsgate.

The trend started in 2005 with The Biggest Loser: The Workout Vol. 1, which became the No. 1 selling fitness DVD in 2006, according to Lionsgate.

“We tried something that hadn’t been done before,” Vikman said about the “Biggest Loser” fitness brand. “We’ve really been able to reinvent and make fitness exciting.”

And it has taken off with consumers. The Biggest Loser: Cardio Max is No. 2 in year-to-date fitness sales for 2008, and The Biggest Loser: Power Sculpt is right behind at No. 3.

Even more successful is last year’s Dancing With the Stars: Cardio Dance, which became the No. 1 selling fitness DVD in 2007 and is the No. 1 selling fitness title so far for 2008, according to Lionsgate.
“Based on the results, we feel the strategy is really paying off,” Vikman said.

The latest DVD, Dancing With the Stars: Latin Cardio Dance, arrived earlier this month.

As for “The Biggest Loser,” the next batch of titles in the series arrives Dec. 16 (prebook Nov. 19). They are The Biggest Loser: Boot Camp and The Biggest Loser: Weightloss Yoga at $14.98 each. And Lionsgate is getting plenty of promotional help for the DVDs.

NBC is promoting the DVD with workout previews and ads on the show’s Web site. NBC affiliates will offer in the top 50 markets “Biggest Loser” Prize Pack giveaways, which will include the DVD.

A free 30-day trial membership to 24-Hour Fitness will be included in all the DVDs. The fitness center chain also will send an e-mail blast to 1 million of its members and will insert an ad for the DVD inside the new membership card mailings to be sent out in January.

Rodale will insert an ad in its Biggest Loser Family Cookbook, coming Nov. 11, and will send an e-mail blast to the biggestloserclub.com members.Branded “Biggest Loser” workout equipment also will carry ads for the DVD.

TV ads also will appear during the airing of the related shows.

“We work very closely with the networks and the show producers to promote and create the DVDs,” Vikman said.

The DVDs are shot in the same set as the TV shows and feature some of the cast and contestants from the shows.

Also arriving Dec. 16 (prebook Nov. 19) is Dirty Dancing: Official Dance Workout (DVD $16.98). The title’s U.K. release in January resulted in being the No. 1 selling DVD of all DVDs its first week out.

The title is being released in conjunction with last year’s 20th anniversary of the film Dirty Dancing. Other events and promotions surrounding the anniversary are various stage shows, a U.K. reality show based on the film, and a licensing program Lionsgate has built with United Media for such merchandise as T-shirts, PC games and calendars.

Lionsgate also is vamping up the packaging for these fitness DVDs to look more like TV DVD titles versus fitness titles. The box art will feature metallic O-ring packaging with the shows’ cast members.
“We want to catch the eyes of consumers to try the DVD and create better visibility on the shelves,” Vikman said.

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