A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM SCRIPPS NETWORKS INTERACTIVE
LOVING OUR EXPERTS, INSPIRED BY OUR CONTENT
HGTV, DIY NETWORK, FOOD NETWORK, COOKING CHANNEL,
TRAVEL CHANNEL AND GREAT AMERICAN COUNTRY.
Life Works Better Here. Scripps Networks. LIFE LIVES HERE.
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Cynopsis Media Presents: Lifestyle Special
07.16.15 Cathy Applefeld Olson
Renovating your beach house? No problem. Looking for a new recipe for your fresh venison? You’re in business. Want to be a fly on the wall in a household completely foreign to your own? Take your pick.
These days, there’s a lifestyle series or seven to satisfy enthusiasts in virtually every category. The programming that launched the cable industry decades ago has grown up more prolific and more sophisticated, and facing more competition than ever from both the broadcast sector and evolving niche networks.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM HGTV
One record-breaking month after another!
13 STRAIGHT MONTHS OF RATINGS GROWTH
8 MONTHS OF REACH GROWTH
#1 WITH WOMEN IN ALL OF CABLE FIRST SIX MONTHS OF 2015
FUELED BY BREAKOUT HITS LIKE:
- BROTHER VS. BROTHER
- FIXER UPPER, FLIP OR FLOP
HGTV. Home is Where Life Happens.
While broadcasters are upping the lifestyle quotient of their programming – consider ABC’s The View, CBS’ The Talk and the fourth hour of NBC’s Today, to name a few-networks focused solely on a particular lifestyle sector are striving to balance between serving core fans while expanding viewership. “Years ago lifestyle programming was made for the category enthusiast. Home content on TV was aimed at people who read shelter magazines and had a strong interest in design,” says Allison Page, GM of Scripps Networks Interactive’s home category that includes HGTV, DIY Network and Great American Country.
“As a category we’ve evolved and our audience has broadened to include men and women – whether they are buying a home, or just want great TV viewing,” she says. “The scope of the shows is more entertaining than ever. The real trick has been continuing to appeal to the core audience.”
Travel parent Scripps reigns over an empire of lifestyle networks that now extends to magazines and live events. Its channels are boosting their on-air talent to stardom at the same time they attract a growing number of notable names from other sectors to host lifestyle series. While Property Brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott remain household names, Ellen DeGeneres’ Ellen’s Design Challenge ranked as one of HGTV’s highest-rated series ever – and was recently picked up for a second season.
Similarly, Food Network is “always looking to expand our ranks,” says Bob Tuschman, Food Network’s GM/SVP and on-air personality. “One way we do that is chefs and other people who grew up in the food world may start as a judge or a competitor on a show and then move into their own series.”
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM FOOD NETWORK
WITH NINE NEW SERIES AND SIX NEW STUNTS
IN JUNE, leaped FIVE SPOTS TO #6 in cable.
#1 in prime for key demos on Sunday nights with Food Network Star
THE SUMMER FUN CONTINUES WITH
CAMP CUTTHROAT WITH ALTON BROWN,
BURGERS, BREW & ‘QUE WITH MICHAEL SYMON
CARNIVAL CRAVINGS WITH ANTHONY ANDERSON; BEACH EATS WITH CURTIS STONE
FOOD NETWORK. Hungry for Life.
Anthony Anderson, who stars in ABC sitcom Black-ish, served as a judge on Iron Chef America and segued to host the series Eating America. Valerie Bertinelli, who has hosted Food’s Kids Baking Championship, in August steps to the center island in her own show, In the Kitchen With Valerie Bertinelli. “The most important thing is, we always stay true to who we are,” Tuschman says. “Content for us has to be authentic, and that includes experts both in front of and behind the camera.”
United We Stand
Uniting networks that target a similar, or complementary, audience sector has been a valuable – and sometimes necessary – for niche lifestyle networks.
While NBCU nets Esquire and Oxygen will launch two series about comedians at work and at home, both with the same cast but different focuses for their respective predominantly male and female audiences, corralling “masculine adventure” content was the impetus for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment’s purchase last year of Sportsman Channel to join it with Outdoor Channel and World Fishing Network.
“Prior to that, they were operating as niche networks and not investing in programming and research as they should have,” says Jim Liberatore, President and CEO, Outdoor Sportsman Group Networks division – Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, World Fishing Network, adding that the move not only is key to leveraging audience, but to scoring critical distribution. “Back in the day, when cable was evolving, you could come up with a niche network and operators would gravitate to it because they were trying to fill their programming schedules,” Liberatore says. “Now you have to demonstrate value or you get kicked off. The days of indie networks being launched in niche spaces are over unless they have the corporate ownership that’s going to be able to invest heavily in those networks.”
With competition growing and lines blurring among some networks’ schedules, having distinct differentiators is more important now than ever in the lifestyle market.
“We’ve really been able to differentiate our effort in the lifestyle space based on our connection to the Hallmark brand,” says Bill Abbott, president/CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, which owns Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. “So much of the brand is centered around home and family, which consists of everything from decorating to cooking to gift giving and travel.”
For Bravo, the secret sauce is a whole lot of strong personalities. “That’s been the through line for us, if you go from Queer Eye to Blow Out in the 2003 era to now,” says Jerry Leo, EVP Program Strategy, Lifestyle Networks, NBCU Cable Entertainment, & Production, Bravo Media. “We have shows in spaces that others have done, but our connection with viewers is the characters. That’s always been the hook for us.”
Those characters have staying power – Million Dollar Listings New York just wrapped its fourth season with franchise ratings highs. “We keep it seamless,” Leo says. “Wednesdays have been a Million Dollar Listing night for us; we’ve got Million Dollar Listing New York handing off to Million Dollar Listing San Francisco to Million Dollar Listing LA. We’re trying to create an environment where viewers get what they expect, and they stay.”
Also key is clearly defining your slate. “We aren’t broadening our appeal, we’re sharpening our appeal,” says Outdoor’s Liberatore. While he acknowledges series like Discovery Channel’s ratings hit Deadliest Catch cross over into the Outdoor Sportsman Group’s territory, “The Discoverys and Historys do a little of that but that’s not who they are. It’s who we are at our core.”
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM TRAVEL CHANNEL
Our fans seek fun, adventure, connection and inspiration.
- WE’RE THEIR GO-TO PLACE for all things fun:
BIKINIS & BOARDWALKS
101 AMAZING THRILLS
FOOD PARADISE INTERNATIONAL
HELLO, SUMMER. HELLO, TRAVEL CHANNEL.
Travel Channel MOVES YOU.
For more, visit travelchannelsadsales.com.
With the airwaves filled, and in some cases saturated, with lifestyle programming, the content is finding a natural and robust home via digital extensions.
Bravo’s Last Chance Kitchen set the bar high. The web-only Top Chef spinoff picked up an Emmy in 2013 and will “definitely be back in the fourth quarter,” Leo says. “That’s been the pinnacle for us.”
Travel Channel upped the digital ante with the web-first debut of Big Crazy Family Adventure. The series, which chronicles an epic family road trip, marks the first time any Scripps network released an entire series initially on a non-linear platform. “We’ve heard from our MSO partners that the shows that do the best [on the web] are the scripted shows, there hasn’t been a lot of success in the non-scripted world,” says Ross Babbit, SVP of programming at the network. “Big Crazy happens to be as close to a scripted format because it’s an arced show.”
Hallmark’s Home & Family “is tailor-made for online activities,” says Abbott. “Viewers are interested in learning more about segments and products and different categories, and because the show is segmented in four-to-five-minute segments, there’s a high level of opportunity to consume that content online as well as on the television.”
“We think a lot these days about storytelling on multiple platforms,” says Food Network’s Tuschman. “Fans of the network are always looking to experience us on more platforms – but the most fun thing is when we can start a story on one platform and continue it on another, and then sometimes bring it back.”
Star Salvation, now in its third season, became a Food Network web-exclusive hit, feeding superfans of The Next Food Network Star and offering a chance for an ousted competitor to return to the television series. And the network’s web series Chopped After Hours is finding its way back to the small screen in a big way. The series gives Chopped judges the same basket of ingredients that stumped competitors on a given night’s episode to see what they create. “We put some of the webisodes together and launched them in an experiment in linear network,” says Tuschman. “It did so well we’re bringing it back as a series.”
Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group
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