HGTV is turning two of its most popular shows into franchises: spinning off Fixer Upper with a companion show and expanding its Flip or Flop house-flipping series to five new cities.
Scripps Network Interactive is sharing the news with buyers and advertisers during its seven upfront presentations around the country, including this afternoon’s event at New York’s Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center.
Chip and Joanna Gaines, whose Fixer Upper is HGTV’s most watched series, with more than 4 million viewers per episode, will be on hand to greet buyers during the New York event. Called Fixer Upper: Behind the Design, the companion series will focus on how Joanna creates the designs that appear in each Fixer Upper episode.
HGTV is also going to franchise one of its other most popular shows, Flip or Flop, with five new shows set across the country.
Much of Scripps’ upfront message—which the company shared in a press briefing this morning—is centered around “environment matters,” which Jon Steinlauf, president of national ad sales and marketing, discussed with Adweek earlier this month.
“Where an ad lives is just as vital as who it reaches,” said Steinlauf, noting that all six of Scripps’ networks—HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network, Cooking Channel and Great American Country—had C3 ratings growth last year in the adults 25-54 demo.
“We believe in protecting the ad model. That’s why we’re no longer on Netflix,” said Steinlauf, who earlier had told Adweek that, “we’ve walked away from the SVOD marketplace because we want to keep everything here, exclusive to us. We have really gone against the grain, and the live viewing is the reward.”
Scripps’ U.S. ad revenue surpassed $2 billion last year, said Steinlauf, and now has a double-digit share of cable advertising.
While the slates for all six networks will be discussed during the event, the highlight remains HGTV, which had its highest-rated year in 2016 and was No. 2 in total day viewing among all adults.
And with its new Fixer Upper and Flip or Flop brand extensions, Scripps hopes to push those ratings even higher.
“When Nielsen tells us a show is really popular, obviously we want to give viewers as much of it as we can, but we don’t want to burn them out. So we like to figure out ways to give them something a little bit different,” Kathleen Finch, chief programming, content and brand officer for Scripps Networks Interactive, told Adweek.
For Fixer Upper, the solution was shoot a companion show simultaneously focusing on Joanna’s designs. “So you get the full-on home renovation in Fixer Upper, but in this new show, you get the behind the scenes—the pillow choices, the paint color, the softer side of design—to give diehard fans more detail on something that they love,” said Finch.
Fixer Upper: Behind the Design—which will air after Fixer Upper, and debut later this year—mimics the company’s approach to its other TV series, where it shoots digital content at the time it is filming episodes. “We’re already shooting all this content with Chip and Jo, so let’s keep the cameras rolling when she’s deciding if the pillows should be blue or gray,” said Finch.
HGTV is also turning one of its other most popular series into a franchise, with new Flip or Flop shows focusing on duos in cities around the country: Las Vegas (premiering April 6), Atlanta (debuting August), Fort Worth, Nashville and Chicago. Finch said the expansion has been in the works for a year, long before Tarek and Christina El Moussa announced they were divorcing in December.
“It’s been such a ratings bonanza when we got it on the air, all these other couples starting surfacing that flip homes. So we got this idea a year ago: let’s franchise the series,” said Finch, adding that Tarek and Christina have been involved with the process all along. “We’ve got five different couples identified, with a few others in the wings, so we’re hoping this will be our next House Hunters franchise.
Meanwhile, HGTV will continue to make Flip or Flop episodes with Tarek and Christina, who will still run their business together, even after splitting. “They’re committed to working together, they want to keep the show going and we want to keep the show going. So the plan is to fold these new iterations into the franchise,” said Finch.
Between House Hunters and Property Brothers, Finch said the company has developed a good sense of how much is too much when it comes to expanding its franchises to maximize audience and advertiser interest. “We monitor very carefully to not overexpose something,” she said, “and as soon as we think we might be overexposing it, we would pull it back.”