Digital Shares Stage as Upfronts Roll On


NEW YORK — Major digital-media initiatives shared center stage with new original series as part of cable networks’ latest round of upfront presentations.

Scripps Networks for the first time will offer its viewers an opportunity to watch programming from its cable networks on more screens as the company announced it will roll out new TV Everywhere iOS and Android apps for authenticated customers this summer, network executives said during its upfront presentation last week in New York.

In terms of original programming, Scripps-owned networks announced several new shows:

• Among the more than 23 new Food Network series and specials on tap for the upcoming year are Giving You the Business, a hidden-camera show in which the owner of a restaurant chain picks four workers who are unwittingly competing to become a franchisee; Guy & Rachael’s Kids Cook-Off , in which Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri highlight the culinary talents of kids ages 8 to 13; Grocery Games, which will feature various chef challenges emanating from different aisles; and Cutthroat Kitchen (working title), which will dole out $25,000 to four chefs who must decide to use the money to aid their cause and/or sabotage their competitors.

Also on the docket are The Shed (working title), a docuseries focusing on Brad Orrison and his millionaire family’s chain of barbeque restaurants; On Bossover (wt), which will drive makeovers for some of the worst bosses in the restaurant business; and Chef Marks the Spot; which follows two blindfolded chefs who are plunged into a real-world environment far from a standard kitchen and pantry.

Cooking Channel will have eight returning primetime series in 2013, including Chuck’s Eat the Street and Road Trip With G. Garvin, and seven new, series including The Alie and Georgia Show, which takes the channel’s Classy Ladies Web series and makes a TV show about traveling with your best friend.

HGTV, which touted its audience as the most upscale in cable, highlighted two new series joining its lineup: Renovation Raiders, where licensed contractor Amy Matthews and a crew complete a major renovation while the homeowners are out to dinner; and Property Brothers spinoff Brothervs. Brother, where twin hosts Jonathan and Drew Scott are pitted against each other to mentor a team of five home-improvement experts competing for $50,000.

DIY is currently in production on four new series including The Rev. Run Project, which tracks the former Run DMC as he renovates his 9,000-square-foot home; and Vanilla Ice Goes Amish, where the rapper turned home construction expert lives with and learns from Amish builders. The network also has projects with character actor Bronson Pinchot and singer/ songwriter (and home rebuilder) Daryl Hall.

Travel Channel  is also adding four new series, including a new show for network personality Adam Richman titled Fandemonium where he searches the country for the biggest fan events. Also greenlit are the husband/wife adventure series Get Lost, Best Daym Takeout hosted by YouTube star Daymon Patterson, and Backroad Gold with antique car expert Corky Coker. The network has also renewed Hotel Impossible and Mysteries at the Museum for additional seasons.

• Preschool cable network Sprout will expand its digital presence over the next year as it adds four new original series to its on-air programming lineup. The network spruced up its website to improve user functionality and offer visitors more character-based activities through more than 100 new online games as well as a growing library of mobile apps. New shows include a preschool game show dubbed Ruff -Ruf; Tweet & Dave, in which kids can play along on a smartphone or tablet with three young friends who go on adventures and ask multiple choice questions about their quests throughout the show; Boj, an animated series about a free-spirited 5-year-oldbilby (an Australian marsupial); Driftwood Bay, a mixedmedia animated show about the adventures on an island that exists in the imagination of a little girl; and Tree Fu Tom, which follows the adventures of a boy who straps on a power belt and, through movement magic called “Tree Fu” transforms into a tiny, mighty magical superhero.

E! will launch six new series over the next year, while preparing to enter the scripted arena with the development of several scripted projects. Along with the previously announced reality series The Wanted Life, starring the pop music group The Wanted (whose members performed at the April 22 upfront), other new E! series include: Total Divas, in which E! teams with the WWE to chronicle the wrestling outfit’s female superstars; Pop Innovators, which showcases influential names in pop culture in their own words; Love and Other Contact Sports: Eric and Jessie, about celebrity-athlete romances such as country singer Jessie James and NFL star Eric Decker; Hello Ross (wt), an interactive talk show hosted by TV personality Ross Mathews; and The Trend, which will explore all things fashion, beauty and design featuring a team of experts and celebrity contributors.

Scripted shows include Laurel Canyon, in which a young woman and her son return to her dysfunctional, extended family after the passing of her rock-legend father; The Stand-in, a retelling of Mark Twain’s The Prince & The Pauper; Songbyrd, which follows the life of a prolific writer of love songs looking for love in her personal life; and Expectations, a drama inspired by Charles Dickens’ classic novel Great Expectations.

The upfront season rolls into May with DirecTV scheduling its upfront presentation May 7 and Adult Swim targeting May 15 for its big event, joining other previously announced presentations next month.