Scripps Networks sharpens focus on digital networks
Wed, October 19, 2005 by Cindy McConkey
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (For Release October 18, 2005) – To maximize the growth potential of its two digital networks, DIY and Fine Living, Scripps Networks announced today the formation of a focused Emerging Networks group. Bob Baskerville, veteran production and programming executive, has been named president of Emerging Networks for Scripps, charged with overseeing the business strategy, content development and operations of the newest Scripps lifestyle networks.DIY and Fine Living rank among the fastest growing digital networks in cable and satellite based on distribution gains over the last two years. DIY reaches about 35 million U.S. households and Fine Living is approaching 30 million U.S. households. In the most recent Beta study on channel carriage, cable operators ranked DIY number one and Fine Living number three when asked which of 24 emerging networks they were most interested in adding for distribution. “We have a real opportunity to strengthen and grow these networks even further within the digital tier, and we’re committing the strategic thinking, creative attention and internal resources to support that effort,” said John Lansing, president of Scripps Networks, which also owns HGTV, Food Network, Great American Country and Shop At Home. “As president of DIY Network, Bob Baskerville has taken DIY from a startup to a frontrunner among a multitude of digital programmers. He has given the network a sharper focus and greatly enhanced the program quality. We are confident he will continue to have a big impact in this broader role.”Baskerville has worked in television for more than 20 years, including heading production at E! for six years before joining Scripps Networks in 1994. He served as senior vice president for production at Scripps, overseeing the production of some of HGTV’s longest-running series and specials including “Restore America” and the annual “White House Christmas.” He was named president of DIY in 2003. The realignment involves moving the network operations of Fine Living from Los Angeles to Knoxville, where Scripps Networks is headquartered.“At launch, Fine Living benefited in many ways from operating at arm’s length from the rest of Scripps Networks. It infused the network with more of an entrepreneurial approach that allowed Fine Living to try some new things, such as short-form programming and appealing on-screen graphics that might not have developed under the shadow of our more established networks,” said Burton Jablin, executive vice president, who oversees all programming and content at Scripps Networks.“Now, as the network breaks past the 30-million household milestone, Fine Living will benefit from being in the heart of our operations, where we will be able to fully leverage all of our resources to support the network’s growth,” Jablin continued. “We have a state-of-the-art facility here in Knoxville with some of the best production and editing capabilities in the industry. The resources are second to none and the talent pool is deep. It’s time that Fine Living have full access to these assets.”Chad Youngblood, who was instrumental in creating HGTV’s refreshed logo and network re-branding, has been promoted from vice president of on-air promotions at HGTV to general manager of Fine Living, where he will work closely with Baskerville on programming and promotions. Scripps expects to name someone to a similar position for DIY Network within a few weeks. Robyn Ulrich, who has been with Scripps Networks for 10 years, also will be a part of the Emerging Networks management team as senior vice president of marketing.“Chad has been a force to watch since joining Scripps Networks five years ago,” Baskerville said. “He is highly creative and brings an innate understanding of how viewers relate to content. Robyn has been a part of the growth of Scripps Networks almost from the beginning. In many ways, Chad and Robyn represent the up-and-coming layer of management being cultivated here to lead this company into the future.”Launched in 1999, DIY Network is the television source for any type of do-it-yourself project. DIY presents 90 percent original programming across a broad range of categories including home building, home improvement, automotive and boating, crafts, gardening, hobbies, and woodworking. DIY’s website, DIYnetwork.com, features step-by-step instructions for all that you see on-air, totaling more than 15,000 projects online. These companion resources provide detailed instructions to more than 2.5 million unique visitors each month.Fine Living’s original lifestyle programming is the ultimate resource for people looking to pursue their passions, realize their dreams and maximize their precious free time. Covering five lifestyle areas – adventure, favorite things, transport, personal space and fine living every day – Fine Living is an authoritative and entertaining source that simplifies the myriad of options for living a balanced and satisfying life. Now in its third year, Fine Living is complemented by its award-winning website, FineLiving.com. In April 2003, Fine Living was named Best New Company by the American Business Awards. Baskerville and the Emerging Networks group will report to Jablin.“These two networks hold a lot of appeal for cable and satellite operators, advertisers and viewers. Both rank high in virtually every industry survey,” Jablin said. “Establishing the Emerging Networks group underscores our commitment to deliver on the promise these brands make for each of these key constituents.”Scripps Networks is a division of The E. W. Scripps Company (NYSE: SSP), a diverse and growing media enterprise with interests in national cable networks, newspaper publishing, broadcast television stations, electronic commerce, interactive media, and licensing and syndication. The company’s portfolio of media properties includes: Scripps Networks, with such brands as HGTV, Food Network, DIY Network, Fine Living, Great American Country and HGTVPro; daily and community newspapers in 18 markets and the Washington-based Scripps Media Center, home to the Scripps Howard News Service; 10 broadcast TV stations, including six ABC-affiliated stations, three NBC affiliates and one independent; United Media, a leading worldwide licensing and syndication company that is the home of PEANUTS, DILBERT and approximately 150 other features and comics; Shop At Home, which markets a growing range of consumer goods directly to television viewers in roughly 55 million U.S. households; and Shopzilla, the online comparison shopping service that carries an index of more than 30 million products from approximately 55,000 merchants.