This week, Scripps Networks’ Scripps News, Ion and Bounce over-the-air channels are being launched on the basic tier of YouTube TV, Google’s virtual multichannel video programming distributor, which has about 6.5 million subscribers.
YouTube TV already carries Scripps’ Court TV.
Last this year, when Google is expected to launch YouTube FAST–its entry into the fast growing free ad-supported streaming television business-Scripps’ portfolio of FAST channels will be part of the package.
Those channels are Ion, Ion Plus, Ion Mystery, Grit Xtra, Bounce XL, Scripps News and Court TV.
Google began testing a set of FAST channels earlier this year, working with programmers including A+E Networks, Cinedigm, Lionsgate and FilmRise.
Google TV will also be distributing Scripps’ subscription service Brown Sugar.
The Google deal is a big step in Scripps’ strategy of getting multiplatform distribution for its channels, Jeffrey Wolf, chief distribution officer at Scripps Networks, told Broadcasting+Cable.
Google recently bolstered its TV platform by buying rights to the National Football League's Sunday Ticket out-of-market game package for a reported $2.5 billion a year.
Scripps has been aiming to get its over-the-air channels on virtual MVPDs. Before YouTube TV, Scripps got a distribution deal with Fubo TV, which is carrying seven of the company’s networks.
“We felt this is a really growing part of the business,” Wolf said. YouTube TV is getting a direct, national feed of the over-the-air networks, not signals from individual stations, so there’s no retransmission payment or must-carry involved as there is with traditional MVPDs.
Wolf declined to describe other financial details. “Between the four networks, we figured out a way to make it interesting to YouTube TV,” he said.
The strong performance by Court TV on YouTube TV — particularly during the Johnny Depp trial last year — paved the way for the addition of more channels from Scripps, Wolf said. YouTube TV has an option to launch Scripps’ other over-the-air channels, Grit, Ion Mystery and Laff, in the future, possibly on a higher-priced tier.
Getting on DirecTV should give Bounce, the company’s network for African-American viewers a boost.
The deal also marks Scripps News continuing effort to get back into the pay TV business. Formerly known as Newsy, Scripps took it off cable and turned it into an over-the-air network. Now, “hopefully we’re going to be adding more pay-TV subscribers for Scripps News over the coming months,” Wolf said.
Scripps has also gotten its FAST channels on major platforms including Roku, Amazon’s FreeVee, Pluto TV, Xumo,Tubi, Samsung TV Plus and Vizio,
“We’ve so much success in the FAST world so quickly,” Wolf says. “When Google gets into this business, it’s really significant for us to be part of their launch and to have our networks showcased.”
Wolf noted that Scripps has focused on getting its FAST channels are on the biggest platforms.
“We’re focused on the distribution that will move our needle, increase our ratings, increase our viewership and therefore increase our revenue,” he said. “Being almost fully distributed on these major platforms is really exciting for these networks.”
In the first three months of 2022, Scripps Networks generated profits of $230.4 million (down 18.6% from the same period in 2021) on revenue of $713 million in revenue (up 5.1%).
Wolf added that with both the vMVPD business and the FAST business growing, distributors and programmers are working together to make the pie bigger.
“We believe our diversified portfolio of networks will help strengthen YouTube TV as a pay tv option for consumers and are excited to be part of their continued growth in the marketplace,” he said. “We look forward to growing our relationship with YouTube TV and their parent company Google.” ■
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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.
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