Lifestyle Networks Rise To Primetime on Weekends

Scripps Networks Interactive is reminding media buyers that its lifestyle networks offer two prime times.

While channels such as HGTV and Food Network draw their biggest audience during the traditional evening primetime hours, their ratings are nearly as high on weekend mornings (DIY Network’s ratings are actually higher on weekends).

More importantly, channels are just as affluent and just as inclined to purchase products they see advertised. In fact, many viewers have food or home projects on their mind and are primed to go to the store to buy what they need for their kitchens and workbenches. “When people want to relax with their special interests in home and food, they like to come to us on the weekend because ‘they do what they view,’” says Jon Steinlauf, executive VP of ad sales at Scripps Networks, using a new tag line developed for this year’s upfront.

“A lot of retail purchases are made on weekends. Companies like Home Depot and all the brands that are sold in there, they think of HGTV and DIY weekend as a bonanza for recency,” Steinlauf says.

“We always look at cable weekends. With some networks that can be your primetime audience,” adds Harry Keeshan, executive VP for national broadcast at media buyer PHD.

Weekends have long been an important business for the Scripps Networks and unlike most of its competitors it has produced original programming for the daypart. Of the 2,200 hours it produces, about 500 premiere on the weekend, Steinlauf says.

“I’ve always said weekend mornings are the heart and soul of Food Network,” says network president Brooke Johnson. “We’ve always devoted a lot of resources to weekend mornings.”

Many of the network’s biggest stars got their start in the daypart, popular weekend shows that now include The Pioneer Woman with Ree Drummond, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen with Trisha Yearwood and Farmhouse Rules with Nancy Fuller.

In January, Food Network launched The Kitchen, an hour-long weekly series featuring five chefs— Geoffrey Zakarian, Jeff Mauro, Katie Lee, Marcela Valladolid and Sunny Anderson—that was recently renewed for another cycle.

Johnson says Saturday morning ratings are up more than 20% year to date. “We’ve unearthed this new talent that’s really resonating with viewers, and because of the interest in America-style comfort food,” Johnson says. She adds that The Kitchen is a good candidate for integrations because it tapes monthly, giving sponsors more opportunities to get involved in the show.

Crunching the Same Numbers

Advertisers have shown they will pay similar rates for original fare on weekend mornings. “I would be comfortable going on the record saying the CPMs are fairly close,” Steinlauf says.

He has a list of reasons why. HGTV and Food are Nos. 1 and 3 on weekend mornings among women 24-54 in households with incomes of $100,000 or more, possibly the most sought-after demo on TV, Steinlauf says. Scripps Networks’ concentration of women viewers also makes them good counter programming to weekend sports.

More importantly, they’re ready to buy. Steinlauf says that spending on the Scripps Networks is up 80% in the e-commerce category. “It’s almost a validation for what we’ve told other advertisers through the years about how fast our viewers buy products in advertising,” he says.

On top of all that, 93% of the C3 audience on the Scripps Networks is watching live, which is the holy grail of the TV business lately. “Advertisers are saying if I buy Scripps weekend, my ads will be seen that half-hour in a live feed; it’s not going to be taped and seen later.”


While there’s been food and real estate programming all over the dial for years, channels devoted to lifestyle programming are starting to spring up to challenge the Scripps Networks brands.

A+E Networks is set to rebrand its Bio channels as the lifestyle network FYI in July. And Discovery Communications’ Destination America is gaining traction in the home and food categories.

“We think it’s going to be a very different network and do some things which are serving an audience that’s actually underserved,” says Jana Bennett, president of FYI and LMN. Bennett says the network is aiming for upscale viewers who are younger than those tuning into current lifestyle networks.

“People are improvising their lives more than ever and not being part of a rat race where their lives are made out by somebody else,” Bennett says.

The network’s slate of original series includes The Epic Meal Show, featuring YouTube’s Sauce Boss Harley Morenstein; Tiny House Nation, a home show that celebrates creativity over size; and The One That Got Away, a part detective story, part relationship show. The network will be optimistic, not snarky, yet retain a sense of humor, Bennett says.

This type of lifestyle network is attractive to advertisers. “I don’t want to say it sells itself, but it delivers a great audience with demonstrated interest about specific kinds of products,” says Mel Berning, A+E Networks’ president for ad sales. “We haven’t signed deals yet, but we’ve got a half-dozen conversations going in different categories.”

Sponsors are fond of Destination America as well. In 2013, the network added 65 new advertisers, according to Dan Hahn VP of ad sales at Destination America. “We love it here because it hits multiple touch points for us, in food, home and travel and advertisers can’t get enough of it,” Hahn says.

Kingsford has signed up as sponsor of BBQ Pitmasters. Real estate companies and insurers advertise in its real estate shows. Hillshire Farms and Prilosec are sponsors of the network’s Red White and You sweepstakes that awards a Fourth of July fireworks show to the winning town.

Hahn says Destination American gives advertisers a place to look outside of Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel for lifestyle programming. “And we like to say we’re those three networks sometimes rolled up into one,” he says.

“We always like alternatives,” says Harry Keeshan, executive VP, director of national broadcast at media agency PHD. “Whether they’re the up and comers or the ones that are established, we always like competition.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.