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HGTV to Start the New Year With a New Look

Nov 15, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Home & Garden TV will ring in the new year by launching a new on-air look Jan. 1.

The makeover won’t be a complete one, however.

“It’s a re-imaging, not a rebranding of the network,” said Dusty Schmidt, senior VP of creative affairs for HGTV. That means specific on-air graphics for its shows as well as promos will be upgraded. Its logo-which depicts the peaked roof of a house over the letters `H’ and `G’ of HGTV-will remain the same.

HGTV will now have a more “cinematic and mature” look, said Chris Moore, design director for HGTV. “We went with the idea of home, ideas, life in thinking about the redesign,” Mr. Moore said.

HGTV would not release any graphics of its new look. It wants it to be seen for the first time when it debuts Jan. 1.

The network spent the better part of the year choosing from some 20 on-air design vendors vying to do the work. It finally settled on Los-Angeles-based Troika Design, which works with many other broadcast and cable networks, including ABC, ESPN, Fine Living (sister network of HGTV), TV Land and the TV Guide Channel.

Also improving its on-air look is HGTV’s decision to resolve the issue over end-of-show credits. Years ago HGTV’s independent producers typically ran up to 60-second-long end credits, which, according to executives, dramatically lowered overall ratings on the network.

More recently HGTV, like its sister network, Fine Living, removed all show credits. Now in a compromise with the craft unions, HGTV will air 15-second end credits.

HGTV’s 10th anniversary is next year and that was among several reasons it is launching the new look. Mr. Schmidt noted that unlike other cable networks that refresh their on-air looks when ratings slump, HGTV is doing it while still showing growth.

HGTV has made gains this year, but not as much as some other networks. Total-day ratings are up 5 percent to an average 471,000 viewers for October. Prime-time viewership is up a similar percentage to an average of 814,000 viewers. One of its key improvements has been among women 18 to 34 years old, a demographic that climbed 30 percent in October from the same period in 2003.

Advertising revenues have risen at a faster rate than viewership. HGTV posted $282.3 million in advertising sales in 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. That was up 27 percent from 2002’s $222.5 million.

It is not just for the new beginning represented by Jan. 1 that HGTV selected that date for the new-look launch. New Year’s Day also is its highest-rated programming day of the year. The network typically airs the Rose Parade from Pasadena, Calif., and then launches a number of new shows afterward. Last year it posted a 1.1 Nielsen Media Research total-day household rating. It typically averages a 0.5 total day rating.

This year it’ll debut “Motor Mansions,” a reality-type show about high-end RVs. “Garden Giants 2,” the second in a series of specials, also will debut.