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HGTV Designs a Reality Competition

4/28/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

New York—Continuing its move toward storytelling and cross-generational fare, Home & Garden Television is taking on the reality-competition genre this summer.

HGTV Design Star will pit designers against each other with the winner getting his or her own show on the network. In the eight-week series, 10 aspiring contestants compete to win over viewers and an expert judging panel, HGTV president Judy Girard said at the Scripps Networks’ upfront presentation here last week.

The show is part of HGTV’s effort to expand on the home-improvement genre.

“We have redefined that category and made it broader and broader,” Girard said. “We’re still very true to the home category, but we’re very true to home as an experience, as well as a physical environment.”

Much of the upfront session focused on HGTV, which will present 1,165 hours of new programming overall this year, including a half-dozen new series. Girard described the network’s forays into not just design and real-estate oriented shows, but also some that are new-product-oriented.

HGTV Design Star, slated to debut July 23, will be hosted by Clive Pearse, who also leads the network’s real-estate series, Designed to Sell.

At the gathering for advertisers and media buyers, Pearse said that the departing line to losing contestants as they exit HGTV Design Star, the equivalent of The Apprentice’s “You’re fired,” will be, “Your show has been cancelled.”

The finale of Design Star will take place in New York in August.

HGTV’s roster for the year features three new series: Cash in the Attic, which tries to put a value on found objects; Buy Me, in which homeowners try to quickly sell off their houses; and Hidden Potential, which uses a computer to illustrate what a home renovation would look like.

Scripps has done more than a dozen upfront presentations across the country for its stable of services that also include Food Network, DIY Network, Fine Living and Great American Country. In Manhattan, ad-sales officials for the various networks emphasized cross-platform opportunities, combining TV and Internet content.

They also cited viewers’ trust of the channel and the products it advertises.

Advertiser options on the various Scripps networks include promotional spots and sponsored vignettes, in which advertisers such as Viking stoves and Sub-Zero freezers have participated.

Food Network trotted out its new personality, Nigella Lawson, who will be hosting Nigella Feasts on the channel this October.

Food was coming off a good weekend: the service broke its record when it scored a 1.9 household rating and 2.5 million viewers for the second season finale of The Next Food Network Star on April 23.

Winner Guy Fieri will debut in his own six-episode series, starting June 25.

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