Scripps Upfront Touts Cross Platform Plays

Vanilla Ice the frosting for HGTV, Food, Travel owner's pitch

Scripps Networks Wednesday upfront presentation for a bustling crowd of hundreds of media buyers brought its wares to its customary haunt, Cipriani 42nd Street.

The presentation featured a parade of executives and assorted personalities from among the company’s six networks: HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, The Cooking Channel, DIY and GAC.

While fans of the niche networks likely recognized many of SNI’s special guests, perhaps the most familiar face belonged to Robert Van Winkle. Better known by his stage name, the rapper stars on the DIY series The Vanilla Ice Project. (As one might expect, Vanilla took the stage to the tune of his 1990 hit, “Ice Ice Baby.”)

Over the course of the morning, Scripps Nets introduced a host of new shows across its brands, including 20 new series on the Travel Channel alone.

“The underlying economy is getting stronger, and more importantly the presidents and directors of companies are feeling more confidence in what’s going to be down the road economically,” said Steven J. Gigliotti, Scripps' head of ad sales and branded entertainment. “If you look at the numbers, we have the best of all worlds—particularly for clients who are looking to advertise to that first beachhead of people who have money. Discretionary income: That’s our real estate right there.”

Scripps executives took pains to emphasize its convergent ad-sale efforts, such as a Kellogg's campaign that originated with the cereal maker's desire to find “non-breakfast uses” for its Rice Krispies, All-Bran and Corn Flakes brands.

Beyond that, Scripps seems to be ahead of some of its competition in embracing multiple platforms and selling advertising across all of them. Last week, for example, it was reported that Scripps was partnering with Hearst Corp. for a new home-focused glossy called HGTV Magazine.

“A lot of ad deals used to start with television first and you’d tweak that message to fit other platforms,” says Jeff Meyer, Scripps Nets’ director of online ad sales. “Now we’re seeing more progressive marketers come up with the overall message of an ad campaign and then customizing that to various platforms.”

HGTV, Food, and Travel were generally flat in Q1 2011, according to Nielsen. HGTV averaged 1.28 million total viewers in primetime, down 1 percent from the same quarter in 2010, while Food and Travel showed no change. The demos were also steady.

Ad sales revenues were up significantly in 2010, as Scripps Nets’ lifestyle unit took in $1.29 billion in sponsor dollars, a gain of 28 percent year-over-year.