Lowe: Food Can Be a $1 Billion Network

Scripps Chief Says Travel Channel Poised for Growth
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Scripps Networks Interactive chairman and CEO Ken Lowe told an audience at an industry conference Tuesday that he expects the programmer’s flagship Food Network to grow to $1 billion in revenue over the next few years.

At the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York, Lowe said he would be “disappointed” if Food didn’t top the $1 billion mark in two to three years.

According to Scripps 2011 annual report, Food tallied about $745 million in total revenue in 2011, up about 12.1% from the year before. In the first nine months of 2012, the network reported revenue of about $616 million, up 13.8% from the prior year.

While Food Network has been growing at a healthy clip, Lowe added that its Travel Channel network is its biggest opportunity for growth. Scripps purchased Travel Channel in 2009 for about $1 billion.

Lowe said the priority for the next few years will be to boost Travel’s hours of programming – at between 400 and 450 hours per year it airs about half the 850 annual hours of HGTV and Food.

“It takes awhile to build a brand. Plenty of people never imagined Food would be a top 10 network,” Lowe said, adding that Travel has the attributes to easily be a top 15 network.

Lowe said that investors should look to see Scripps continue to invest in programming across the board.

“It is the lifeblood of what we do,” Lowe said.