E.W. Scripps Co. has combined the local ad-sales efforts
for Home & Garden Television and Food Network, after its earlier consolidation of
their affiliate-sales efforts.
The combination represents "the best approach to
partner with the local cable operator" in refocusing national advertisers'
attention toward local markets, said Susan Packard, chief operating officer for Knoxville,
Rather than making cuts, the company will likely expand its
local sales force from four to as many as six people.
Sales executives contacted at the system level last week
seemed to welcome the revamp.
"The transition's been fine -- just one less
phone call," said Bill Dugan, account executive at Time Warner Cable of Syracuse,
N.Y. But, he added, not every consolidation would have worked so well.
The new HGTV/Food local-sales combo could generate $4
million for cable operators, as the Scripps Networks sales force aims to "redirect
national advertisers to local cable from TV and print," Packard estimated. About 750
national accounts currently buy time on HGTV, and 500 on Food, she said.
Bud Breheney, previously Food's Eastern region vice
president for local ad sales, is now Scripps Networks' vice president of local ad
sales. Breheney will concentrate on retailers, and especially supermarkets, Packard said.
Janice Brandon, formerly on HGTV's local-sales field
staff, has become director of new-business development/national and local ad sales at the
new Scripps Networks entity.
Joint local-sales promotions may be one way for the
networks to spark sales for affiliates, Packard said, pointing out that HGTV's
"Dream Home Giveaway" sweepstakes has proven very successful in attracting
scores of local accounts to hundreds of systems.
Ad categories at both Scripps networks are "very
retail-intensive," Packard said, "so this [reorganization] will play very well
to local ad sales."
It's conceivable that Scripps Networks will try to
develop local-sales packages in conjunction with the 20 Scripps-owned newspapers and nine
television stations, Packard said, but "we're not that far along yet."
HGTV's reach virtually doubled over the past year or
so, to 41 million-plus homes, and Food's subscriber count stands at 32 million,
Packard said; their insertable-subscriber tallies are roughly 27 million and 21 million,
respectively, she added.
At Cox Communications Inc., Pat Esser, vice president of ad
sales, said the restructuring "looks like a win-win" in local sales, because
"they had good people to begin with, so they should be fine at the end of the
Kevin Dowell, Jones Intercable Inc.'s group ad
director in Chicago, said his group begins inserting on HGTV Aug. 1, so it's
"too early to tell." But he felt that the networks "bring good synergies to
the table," and that advertisers are already "aggressively asking for
On the network end, HGTV and Food will continue selling
national clients separately, Packard said.