Scripps unveils strategy to take more control of its programming
Wed, May 23, 2012 by Tim King
Extending its long-standing commitment to high-quality programming and innovative storytelling, The E.W. Scripps Company is producing two original shows with national appeal that will begin airing September 17 in seven of the company’s 13 television markets.
The new shows are replacing the company’s current lineup of syndicated programming in the time periods before the networks’ primetime lineup (the “access” hour) or before early evening local newscasts (the “early fringe” hour).
Scripps worked with a market research firm to conduct the most-comprehensive national consumer study of the access hour in more than 20 years. Surveys and market analysis revealed specific information categories desired by today’s access audience. After generating and reviewing dozens of demo reels of shows in those valued categories and testing the most-promising concepts with broad-based focus groups, Scripps has given the green light to a pair of 30-minute daily shows:
- Scripps will launch a brand new game show called “Let’s Ask America.” Unlike other game shows, the contestants are not in the same studio; they instead are linked digitally from the comfort of their own homes to answer questions that – consistent with the Scripps mission as a journalism company – are weighted toward current events. In other words, Let’s Ask America gives contestants the chance to win cash and prizes from their couches. The format of Let’s Ask America, powered by contemporary technology, reflects the audience desire for new twists on the game show concept. The show is produced by Telepictures and paraMedia inc and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. The format will be distributed internationally by Warner Bros. International Television Production. The show is helmed by executive producer Jim Paratore, who is president of paraMedia inc and the highly successful creator and an executive producer of TMZ and a former executive producer of The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Lopez Tonight.
- In keeping with the news and journalism mission of the company, Scripps also will launch “The List,” a nightly news magazine at the intersection of news and pop culture. The show’s design is to entertain and pull back the curtain on the top-trending stories of the day delivered in the user friendly and popular form of lists. The List delivers water cooler buzz with a light edge, keeping you up to date and in the know with money-saving tips and inspiring stories. The List will give the viewer takeaway advice to make life better, and include videos and tips to be shared with friends and family. The List gives viewers what they need to know – with an attitude – and great storytelling aimed squarely at wallets, hearts and funny bones. The List will use an ensemble cast of national and local vloggers (video bloggers), web content experts, and multimedia journalists covering national topics with availabilities for localized content. Additional programming will come from the national investigative unit of the Scripps news service in Washington, D.C., as well as local Scripps affiliates. Rick Joyce, the executive producer of The List spent 10 years as News Director of "Entertainment Tonight" and created and executive produced an entertainment website called HollywoodIntel.com.
The series will be made available outside of the Scripps markets through Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution for a fall 2013 national launch and prior thereto as appropriate time periods become available.
“This is an important step in our strategy to take more direct creative and economic control of the content that serves our viewers and supports our advertisers across the country,” said Rich Boehne, Scripps president and CEO. “There’s no more important place to be an entrepreneur than in the creation of programming for the growing menu of screens that carry our brands.”
Scripps has a long and successful history as a content producer for television. In addition to extensive local news and information programming, Scripps also spent 15 years producing content for its own and other cable TV networks. The cable network division, which included Home & Garden Television and Food Network, was spun off into a separate company, Scripps Networks Interactive, in 2008.
More recently, Scripps has collaborated with Cox Media and Raycom Media to produce RightThisMinute, a daily, 60-minute program that tells the news and stories of the day through cell phones, webcams, digital cameras and Skype accounts. RightThisMinute launched in fall 2011 and will expand to more than 50 markets by this fall.
“We launch these new shows with great confidence that they will engage a broad audience that will be attractive to advertisers,” said Brian Lawlor, senior vice president of the Scripps television division. “We have invested many months of research to find winning formulas that will inform and entertain audiences. Our extensive testing convinced us that we have the ingredients for some of the most-appealing new content to be introduced in the access and early-fringe hours in many years.”
The new programming begins in September in the Scripps markets of Phoenix, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Tampa, Kansas City and Tulsa. When contracts for other syndicated shows expire in the remaining Scripps markets (Detroit, Denver, San Diego, Indianapolis, West Palm Beach, Fla., and Bakersfield, Calif.), Let’s Ask America and The List will move into those timeslots.
Scripps is a leading media enterprise that embraces its rich history in delivering high-quality journalism through television stations, newspapers and the Scripps Howard News Service, while developing and expanding its digital strategies, including social gaming, for multiple platforms. The company provides community-changing breaking news, story-telling, investigations and interactive outreach at 19 television stations in major markets such as Denver, San Diego, Detroit, Phoenix, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Tampa, and 13 newspaper markets, including Memphis, Knoxville, Naples, Fla., and Corpus Christi, Texas. Since 1941, Scripps has operated the National Spelling Bee, one of America’s most-enduring celebrations of academic excellence.