For the first time, the Scripps networks are planning a single show that will run on all of its five cable outlets.
During its upfront meetings beginning this week, Scripps will describe Your Summer Life, a multinetwork, multiplatform effort being offered to advertisers for August 2006.
Steve Gigliotti, executive VP of ad sales and emerging media at Scripps Networks, said Your Summer Life is a working title, and each network will run programming, promotion and vignettes using the theme in its own way. The networks will also cross-promote one another, leading to the final show, which will air on HGTV, Food Network, DIY, Fine Living and probably Great American Country.
Scripps is considering roadblocking the show, that is, airing it at the same time on each network to give it the maximum pop in a single time period.
The move marks a recent shift for Scripps, traditionally a proponent of selling each of its networks separately. Mr. Gigliotti said that in multiplatform deals it is important that each network get full value for its part in any deal with a client. Advertisers sometimes seek discounts when multiplatform deals include networks not usually on the media schedule.
During the Your Summer Life event, Food Network will look at outdoor cooking and grilling. Fine Living’s shows will offer pointers on perfect summer parties. DIY will give tips on landscaping and creating outdoor environments, and HGTV will examine outdoor living spaces.
“The programming will be delivered in bursts, playing on each individual network’s strength,” said Jon Steinlauf, senior VP of ad sales. “Each program element will lead into the next one, so that this will build over the course of several weeks. It will allow viewers to follow a single topic through an event that takes them from network to network to create a full experience of summer entertaining.”
Content about the event will also appear on the network’s Web sites.
Scripps would not discuss how many Summer Life packages would be sold or how they will be priced.
With its focus on highly targeted networks, Scripps has enjoyed stronger ad growth than the rest of the cable industry. During last year’s upfront, cable overall saw revenue increases in the low teens, while Scripps grew almost 30 percent, Mr. Gigliotti said. This year, Mr. Gigliotti expected cable growth to be a bit slower but offered no prediction for Scripps’ prospects.
“Scripps has been very forward-thinking in the way they approach dealing with advertisers, in some cases integrating advertisers,” said Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, senior VP and director of broadcast investment for Starcom USA. “They have some interesting and targeted offerings.”
She said she likes the notion of cross-promotion. “That’s smart on their part, anytime you have real estate and you can use it to promote another piece of real estate,” she said.
Scripps was set to begin last weekend a multinetwork event sponsored by Citigroup that featured weddings, the first time the four networks have programmed along a single theme. Citigroup wanted to reach young people and make them lifetime customers, and, by coincidence, four of the Scripps networks were planning wedding-themed programming at the same time, Mr. Gigliotti said.
This month’s event starts with Food Network’s “Wedding Weekend” and follows with HGTV’s “Newlywed Weekend,” which deals with home design and room makeovers, DIY’s “How To I Do” and Fine Living’s “Ultimate Wedding Guide” guide, addressing topics including honeymoon destinations. There will also be wedding content on each network’s Web site.
“It’s nice to hear that you have a media group with very complementary networks that for a given marketing task can come to the plate with an idea that would satisfy a client’s needs,” said Ray Dundas, senior VP and group director of national broadcast at Initiative. “It doesn’t matter where the creative idea comes from, whether it comes from the media or the agency or the clients, so long as it’s a good tactical use of client dollars.”
It’s also smart business for Scripps, he said. “If you have an advertiser that has only dealt with one network, this is a way of increasing revenue of Scripps’ other networks with a similar-type idea that would create additional revenue for that network group,” Mr. Dundas said.
Mr. Dundas said the Scripps Networks offer “well-positioned program formats that have been very focused, well produced. Each year you can look at the Scripps networks and see their audience growth, and it’s been steady over the past several years.”
He saw a link through all of the Scripps networks, except Great American Country. “The home is the common thread across those four networks, and they have this format in niche programming and they’ve been successful in first getting the viewers and now getting the advertising dollars,” he said.
Ms. Herbst-Brady expects spell out the relationship with GAC during this year’s upfront presentations. “I’m sure they have a specific idea in mind,” she said. “I doubt they bought it because they thought, `Gee, we should buy another channel.’ They are very targeted and purposeful in how they develop things.”
Though advertiser-friendly, Scripps does not allow product placement in its shows. It does create sponsored vignettes that run after its program and are closely related to the theme.
Scripps officials said that while recall of in-show spots is about 30 percent, recall of spots in the vignettes jumps to almost 80 percent.
Still, advertisers would like to place their products in Scripps shows.
“We would love to have product placement within their programs. If they would open it up, I think that would be a benefit to them,” Mr. Dundas said. But he said, “They have just resisted it and advertisers have continued to support them.”