Exclusive: TLC Moves Back Into Property Space

It's been a decade since interior design shows such as Trading Spaces dominated TLC, but at the Discovery Communications upfront on April 4, the female-focused cable network will announce a concerted push back into the space.

TLC saw success last summer with Four Houses, which invites four homeowners to visit and score each other’s houses for the chance to win $10,000. The series’ second season premiere on April 20 will help launch “Saturday House Party,” a new property programming block. Using Four Houses as a model, TLC’s specials aim to apply its personality-driven brand filter to the home programming genre that’s popular on networks such as HGTV.

“We have always loved the space, but the challenge is we have to make sure we have this unique twist to it that’s really going to connect with our audience,” says TLC general manager Amy Winter. “Our brand really brings unique people to the forefront and lets them tell their stories. The sort of tried-and-true formats that we were seeing in the property space weren’t connecting on that level.”

Each Saturday, back-to-back episodes of Four Houses will lead into new property specials at 10 p.m., which in success will be expanded into series. First up on April 27 is Insane Bathrooms, a tour of the most opulent and mind-bending bathrooms in the world. Twisted and Listed, about a Seattle real estate agent who tackles problem properties, premieres May 4.

On May 11, it’s back-to-back half-hour episodes of Honey Do, where a team of handymen comes to the aid of a wife with a relatable “honey do” list to perform the fix-it work and teach her husband along the way. The one-hour special Surreal Estate, following homebuyers with unique tastes in search of one-of-a-kind properties, airs May 18.

The property block also represents a shift to originals on Saturday for TLC. “We took a look at the competition out there, and we felt like there’s not a lot of people programming all-new content on Saturday,” Winter says. “These are the perfect kind of snack-food shows that people would want to consume on that night.”

TLC is also expanding its popular bridal programming with the pickup of three new projects, including the Cat Deeley-hosted special My Dream Wedding (working title), in which the So You Think You Can Dance personality helps brides stretch their tight budgets to achieve the wedding they’ve dreamed of, airing in September.

Other new series are July’s Wedding Island, following Vieques’ sole wedding planner, Sandy Malone, as she navigates logistical problems to plan nuptials on the remote tropical locale; and 90 Days to Wed, which trails four international couples on 90-day fiancé visas as they learn to share a home and be a couple, scheduled for November.

TLC has also renewed Something Borrowed, Something New and I Found the Gown for second seasons, joining stalwart series FourWeddings, Randy to the Rescue and four editions of its Say Yes to the Dress franchise on the network’s 2013-14 slate.

E-mail comments to amorabito@nbmedia.com and follow her on Twitter: @andreamorabito