Meet the Programmer: Alpha Mom TV
By: Shirley Brady
It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. In Isabel Kallman’s case, it was necessary to be a mother before being an inventor. The birth of her first child led to the creation of a different kind, the Alpha Mom TV network, which launched nationally on Comcast’s free-on-demand lineup in late May.
The channel’s goal is to empower mothers, particularly new ones (and fathers, too), who feel overwhelmed by the glut of parenting books, magazines and online resources. Certainly the VOD format is perfect for new parents, allowing them to access shows at their convenience, often a scarce commodity when newborns enter the picture. And the content seems sound: an advisory board of doctors, psychologists and other leaders in the field of childhood development reviews Alpha Mom’s programs. It also hits home: Original series Alpha Mommy Moguls features interviews with “mompreneurs,” whose children inspired them to develop businesses that support, inform and connect mothers.
Ironically, former Wall Street executive Kallman and Alpha Mom CEO Vicky Germaise envisioned a traditional linear TV channel. But the co-founders quickly realized their network stood a better chance of getting distribution and advertising support as a niche channel designed for cable operators’ VOD platforms.
Since going live on Comcast–with which it has an exclusive distribution agreement for “a period of time,” Germaise says–the start-up network has landed its first major advertiser and produced its first branded product, a CD of lullabies based on rock music hits. The CD is sold at alphamom.com.
In addition to negotiating for carriage with cable operators such as Time Warner Cable, Kallman and Germaise are expanding their programming lineup (80% of which is original, 20% licensed) and working with marketing partners such as Macy’s West and Loews Cineplex Entertainment, which hosts Alpha Mom events as part of its “Reel Moms” film series. These Loews events, where mothers are encouraged to take their newborns to the movies, also tie in with local cable systems.
To help cable systems market the channel, Kallman and Germaise created a calendar that reflects nationally observed monthly themes. For instance, this month is National Baby Safety Month, so Alpha Mom is featuring four new titles on infant and toddler CPR and first aid. “We were looking for a really turnkey, consistent and simple way for cable operators to work with us,” Germaise says. “Independent programmers like ourselves are constantly vying for those little bits of the cable system’s assets that can give us a little more visibility and a little bit of an edge.”
Popular Alpha Mom TV titles include Crying & Your Baby’s Sleep, featuring nationally recognized infant sleep experts from the Soho Parenting Center in New York, and Liz Lange’s Maternity Style, where fashion designer Lange shares practical tips on building a stylish yet budget-conscious maternity wardrobe.
Original series The Alpha Mom Book Club premieres this month, featuring interviews with authors of parenting books, such as Dr. Harvey Karp, who wrote The Happiest Baby on the Block.