Scripps Networks Tout Viewer Loyalty

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As the first programmer to make its upfront presentation to the Madison Avenue community and the press here last week, Scripps Networks unveiled new third-party research that gave its networks high grades among viewer and advertising affinity.

The Viewer Engagement
study, conducted this winter by Simmons Market Research Bureau, found that Home & Garden Television, Food Network, Do It Yourself and Fine Living consistently ranked in the top 10, if not the top 5, across 23 attributes.

Questions about 35 cable and broadcast networks concerning viewer interest and loyalty to the services were posed to the Simmons national consumer survey base of 25,000 Americans.

Among adults ages 25 to 54, Simmons research indicated the Scripps networks swept the top four positions for the following questions: "it inspires you to do new things"; "it provides information about quality products and services"; "the ads are relevant"; "the ads are informative"; "you can trust the products advertised on this channel"; and "you are inclined to buy products and services on this channel."

The survey findings dovetailed with remarks from E.W. Scripps Co. president Ken Lowe about the networks maintaining their consistency and focus — and reaching viewers who are passionate about these categories.

Lowe also talked about Scripps sticking with its strategy of programming ownership (around 95% of shows) as a control that has been instrumental in the cable networks' ability to make their content available in a video-on-demand capacity in 84 markets.

Lowe said this ownership, when combined with well-trafficked Web sites and broadband offerings, enables Scripps services to present advertisers with a variety of solutions to get their clients' messages across in a world of clutter and digital video recorders.

Judy Girard, who was recently named Shop At Home president in addition to her duties leading Food, said the goal is to make the shopping service the commercial end for all of the networks, and their attendant Web sites, through boutique offerings.

HGTV president Burton Jablin spoke of continuing to roll out an array of original programming: HGTV will tee up 1,000 new hours in 2004 and 2005. Following on the success of House Hunters, HGTV will bow Designed to Sell on March 28. The series, featuring tips and comments from home sellers (armed with $2,000 for repairs) realtors, interior designer Lisa La Port and host Clive Pearse, will afford viewers solutions on how to spruce up one's residence and improve its marketability before hanging out the for sale sign.

DIY president Bob Baskersville, in an interview after the press presentation, said the network is upping its number of original hours from 385 in 2003 to 450 this year.

Fine Living president Ken Solomon extolled an all-original lineup that includes 52 series, various specials and informational vignettes. All told, Fine Living counts "hundreds of blue chip advertisers," he said.

Wearing her Food hat, Girard announced plans to go domestic with its popular Iron Chef. A network spokesman said the shows will feature a trio of chefs from Japan and three members of Food's on-air culinary crew. Taping in Los Angeles the first week of March, the shows will bow over a weekend in late April.

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