Fine Living Makes Most of Shopping

Nov 27, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Scripps may be through with Shop at Home, but it’s not through with shopping.

Embracing both corporate synergy and cross-media cooperation, Scripps’ Fine Living network has launched “American Shopper,” a series based on data from Shopzilla, the online comparison shopping service also owned by Scripps. It was scheduled to debut last Friday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.

The show features products that are the most asked about on the Shopzilla Web site but, unlike home shopping services, does not offer them directly for sale.

According to Chad Youngblood, general manger of Fine Living, the parent company-which, after suspending operations at its struggling Shop at Home, sold that shopping network to Jewelry Television earlier this year-“didn’t come to me and say `Can you figure out a way to work Shopzilla into television?”‘

Rather, Fine Living had been looking to do a shopping show but didn’t want to put together a Consumer Reports-style staff of product testers. The network’s thoughts turned to Shopzilla and “what they do to give people good advice when they’re thinking of buying. It just seemed like a natural fit to put the two together,” Mr. Youngblood said.

The show is being constructed for multiplatform distribution. The network is producing about 50 segments describing the features of various products. Those segments will be on Fine Living’s Web site beginning this week and will be used to make 13 episodes. One interesting finding: The Shopzilla data showed that people are doing a lot of shopping for their pets, and those items will show up on the show, he said.

For TV, Fine Living is adding another Scripps staffer, John Matarese, consumer reporter at Scripps-Howard-owned WCPO-TV in Cincinnati as a consumer expert. Some of Shopzilla’s product experts, including Helen Malani, will also appear. Lesley Ann Machado is the host.

The video segments will also be made available on Shopzilla, which will get significant promotion during the show. “There are times during each episode when we suggest that one of the best ways to be a great American shopper is to do some comparison shopping online,” Mr. Youngblood said. “In that instance we are doing a service for our sister company, but it’s really a service to the consumer as well.”

“American Shopper” kicked off a new programming block on the network called Smart Shopping Weekends, which reflect the network’s focus on “helping people do more with their time and money,” Mr. Youngblood said. Other shows in the Smart Shopping Weekends block include “The Insider’s List With Julie Moran,” “The Shopping Bags,” “Simplify Your Life,” “What You Get for the Money” and HGTV’s “I Want That!”

When it started in 2003, Fine Living’s programming was very upscale. Now the network, which is in about 40 million homes, is trying to become more access-ible. “We believe we can help people do more with their time and money because at the end of the day everyone defines fine living for themselves differently. We don’t want to define the network as `Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,”‘ Mr. Youngblood said.

Fine Living does not yet subscribe to Nielsen Media Research, so ratings data is not available.