Scenes From a Network Wedding

The ink is barely dry on the March merger between Discovery Communications and Scripps Networks Interactive, yet the new Discovery Inc. has already begun to find ways to benefit both on the marketing and programming fronts from its combined network assets, including Discovery Channel, Food Network, HGTV, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel and DIY.

“With the broad reach that we have now, we have an ability, day and date, to tell people on HGTV and Food and ID that something great is going on TLC,” David Zaslav, Discovery’s president and CEO, said July 26 at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. “So we’re kind of just growing into our new set of assets, but we’re working together really well, and things are going better than we expected, and we’re having a good time.”

On the ratings side, a number of Discovery networks are clicking with female audiences. HGTV was July’s most-watched network among women 25 to 54 — behind Investigation Discovery — while Food Network was No. 5 within the demo.

HGTV and Food Network president Allison Page talked about the potential synergies that can be created between the legacy Scripps and Discovery Channels, as well as the continued popularity of the two network brands, with Multichannel News senior content producer, programming R. Thomas Umstead.

MCN: What has been the biggest change for the legacy Scripps networks since the merger?
Allison Page:
The biggest change on the legacy Scripps side is the power of the combined brands and what we can do together. The fact that it’s an international company with so many networks is great. On some nights, up to 20% to 25% of women watching TV are watching one of our networks, so there’s a really big audience that we can speak to now.

MCN: Are there any opportunities beyond cross-promoting that you can benefit from — maybe sharing programming across the networks?
We’re talking a lot about what’s working on another network and how we can come together and do something that is shared. An example of that revolved around Drew Scott’s wedding (Scott is co-host of HGTV’s Property Brothers). Weddings are such a big category for TLC, so we did a special around their wedding on TLC. Likewise, we brought the story of how they chose their wedding cake to Food Network. So there’s a lot of crossover, particularly with Food Network, TLC and HGTV — there’s a lot of shared DNA and a lot of opportunity. On The Wedding Cake Championship on Food Network, we had Randy [Fenoli] from Say Yes to the Dress on the show, so that was fun as well. There are a lot of places where it’s just so natural. The Discovery networks, along with HGTV and Food Network are really feeling the benefits, and it’s pretty exciting as a combined company what we can do together.

MCN: What the secret sauce behind the continued ratings success of Food Network and HGTV in a very crowded television marketplace?
I think the secret sauce is the strength of the brands. We’re not about one show, one hit or one night that’s working. If you come to HGTV you know what you’re looking for and you’re going to get what you want, and you’re probably going to get a premiere episode, because we have them every single night. Same thing with Food Network — we know who we are and we deliver on that every single night.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.