Scripps Networks Forms Division to Produce Digital, Branded Content
Food Network's Snapchat Discover channel has had a big impact on parent company Scripps Networks Interactive's digital strategy. Previously the company used digital as a way to augment its TV business, such as by taking a recipe mentioned on a show and posting it online. But as it's been posting 14 stories a day to the Discover channel, it has realized that, instead of that utilitarian approach to digital, it might be better off producing more entertaining content like it does on TV.
"It's really pushed us beyond our natural comfort zones. For me it was a watershed moment when we started that much content so quickly within a day and for a different audience. It was largely an impetus to how we wanted to go to market with the studio," said Vikki Neil, senior VP and general manager of Scripps Lifestyle Studios.
Scripps Lifestyle Studios is a new division that Scripps Networks has formed to produce editorial and branded content -- videos, photos and articles -- specifically for distribution across digital platforms that include Scripps' own properties, as well as Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Apple's News app and Verizon's Go90 mobile video service.
For example, on Friday Scripps Lifestyle Studios will produce a live-streaming "cookie party" on Food Network's and HGTV's Facebook pages using Facebook's new live-streaming tool. And it's also developing an interview show called "Foodie Call" with "Food Network Star" winner Justin Warner as well as a short-form video series called "HGTV Happy" that will include videos about how to personalize your phone or survive a snow day.
"Creating original content for a digital experience, I do think sometimes it's a very different nature, and that's what this group is dedicated to. That's our job day in and day out, whereas TV's job is to create TV shows day in and day out," Ms. Neil said, adding that the two sides do and will continue to cross over. For example, Food Network chef Bobby Flay and his daughter Sophie recently starred in a series of cooking videos that aired on Food Network's Snapchat Discover channel.
"The amount of that content creation really requires a dedicated effort as opposed to asking the people who create linear programming for us to also create that. It's becoming too big a need and too big an opportunity," said Scripps Networks Chief Revenue Officer Steve Gigliotti.
And it's not only an editorial opportunity. Scripps has been incorporating brands into its TV content for two decades, and it's produced some digital content for brands. However "we've been doing that kind of as a one-off production, and the appetite for that is bigger and bigger," Mr. Gigliotti said.
The division's editorial-and-advertising focus represents a trend within Scripps to have its editorial teams work more closely with its ad sales teams, according to Ms. Neil. "Our key goal and one of the biggest mental shifts for our entire team that we've been undergoing for some time now is storytelling can and often is benefitted by including advertisers," she said.
Scripps Networks also sees the digital division as a way to enter new content categories that are related to the ones it's already in. "We're a major player in the food category, but an adjacent category could be health," Mr. Gigliotti said.
Scripps Lifestyle Studios counts more than 100 employees, the majority of whom are millennial-aged women, according to Ms. Neil. Those employees will be split between Scripps' Knoxville headquarters and its New York City office. The Knoxville-based team will be able to use the company's HGTV Studio as well as its outdoor space, and its New York team will have access to the Food Network Kitchen.