Sometimes even the Do-It-Yourself Network can’t do everything itself.
The Scripps Networks-owned channel has acquired the exclusive cable rights to “This Old House,” “Bob Vila’s Home Again” and “New Yankee Workshop,” PBS-originated programs that according to General Manager Kathleen Finch “started home-improvement television.”
Scripps generally favors creating original content it can own and distribute over multiple platforms. But DIY, now in 43 million homes, last year began getting ratings data from Nielsen Media Research and is more aggressively moving to build viewership and establish its brand.
“Our strategy is not really to be in the acquisition business because obviously we’re building our own brand and our own talent,” Ms. Finch said. But she added, “We were lusting after these three shows.”
Ms. Finch said she expects that the public broadcasting shows, with popular hosts like Mr. Vila, are “going to bring a tremendous amount of new viewers to us to sample.”
The shows are expected in particular to bring in men, a demographic in which the network is already strong. “In a world where generally only sports and news and comedy can bring men, we’re proving otherwise, which we and our ad sales people are thrilled about,” she said.
Before getting ratings, Scripps had sold DIY aggressively because it’s hard to raise ad rates once they are established. On the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Scripps officials said that they had to roll back prices of commercials on DIY slightly to account for the actual ratings levels reported by Nielsen.
DIY will strip “Bob Vila” weekdays at 8 p.m. ET. It will be preceded by episodes of “This Old House” at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The established shows will lead into DIY originals in prime time.
“New Yankee Workshop” will air Saturday nights during DIY’s woodworking block. “As you can imagine, we have no competition in that world,” Ms. Finch said. “If you want to watch woodworking shows, you watch DIY on a Saturday night.”
The shows will also appear during the day on weekends, which is a big time period for DIY because that’s when people have time to take on projects around the house.
DIY plans to promote the network through its big online user base because while the channel still has limited distribution on cable, everyone can access its Web site. “In a lot of ways, we program backwards-we start online, then drive them to our television network,” Ms. Finch said.
The channel is also counting on cross-channel promotional support from the other Scripps networks: HGTV, Food Network, Fine Living and GAC. The network is putting together a promo spot that is called the “trifecta spot” internally and features the three programs.
The shows will be taking up a significant amount of real estate on the DIY schedule, but Ms. Finch said the network is not reducing the production of original shows. The acquired programming will replace third and fourth runs of originals.
In addition to PBS stations, “This Old House” used to appear on HGTV. It moved over to DIY last year, but now the show will be a key part of the network.
“The fact that `This Old House,’ `Bob Vila’s Home Again’ and `New Yankee Workshop’ are not only on our air, but it’s the only cable network where you can find all three, it’s really a big deal,” Ms. Finch said. “It’s doing a lot for our brand building by going out in the marketplace and saying we are all about home improvement and we have the three top shows to prove it.”