TV Upfront

Food Network Parent Will Simulcast Ads on Six Channels to Match Broadcast Audiences

Offers 'Lifestyle Roadblock' and New Targeting in Upfronts

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'Beat Bobby Flay' on Scripps' Food Network
'Beat Bobby Flay' on Scripps' Food Network

Scripps Networks is promising advertisers reach comparable to that of broadcast TV during this year's upfront negotiations.

Of course, none of Scripps' individual cable channels, which include Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel, come close to reaching the audience broadcast network's reach on any given night. But Scripps is offering what it is calling a "Lifestyle Road Block," allowing advertisers to air a commercial across all of its channels at the same time.

"Advertisers are asking about scale, scale, scale, reach, reach, reach, and what can we do for them on one night," said Jon Steinlauf, president-national ad sales and marketing, Scripps Networks.

All six channels will sell the same commercial break on the same night for advertisers who want to reach audiences across all of the channels, Mr. Steinlauf said.

While any network group can do a road block, Scripps' offering is unique because it is concentrated in lifestyle programming and heavily concentrated with live viewing, he added.

On a Tuesday night commercial break at 9:08 p.m., Scripps' combined channels delivered as high as a 3 rating among upscale women 25-to-54, Mr. Steinlauf said, where one ratings point equals 1% of TV households in a particular demographic. In comparison, on broadcast the average for upscale women is a 1.5 to 2 rating, he said.

"We know there are time periods where we can provide broadcast scale or even more all within a Scripps environment," Mr. Steinlauf said.

Scripps enters the upfront marketplace with its total viewership for Food Network down 4% in prime time, while Travel Channel is off 12% season-to-date. HGTV and Cooking Channel's audience has remained steady, while DIY Network is up about 7% season-to-date.

Scripps is also joining the data game, utilizing Nielsen Catalina Solutions to help advertisers better reach target audiences. Through its Target Audience Packages, Scripps says it can, for example, drill down across its six networks to find an audience that's most like to buy Greek yogurt.

"We have always been a targeted media offering…Our content is naturally optimized but gets supercharged when you apply data," said Steve Gigliotti, chief revenue officer, Scripps.

Scripps will also continue offer guarantees on what it's calling the "C-Zero" window: commercials that are seen live or on the same day they air, as opposed to broadcast's more common "C3" metric, which includes viewing within three days of airing. The company did some initial deals with C-Zero during last year's upfront.

Mr. Steinlauf said Scripps is using C-Zero to create the perception that its cable networks are "sports-like," noting how viewers turn to Food Network or HGTV in the same way they might ESPN. "We want people to think of us as a live set of networks and that they can get more live impact with us the way they do with sports," he said.

And to ensure advertisers think of Scripps as a network that can also reach millennials, the company will be promoting its partnership with Snapchat and deal to be on Dish Network's Sling TV.

While some TV networks are planning direct-to-consumer streaming platforms for subscribers that don't necessarily have cable or satellite, Scripps isn't going that route yet. But executives said it might experiment in streaming video with niches that are not represented on the TV network -- such as, for example, content about gluten-free cooking, suggested Brooke Johnson, president of Food Network and Cooking Channel.

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