Food Network And HGTV Parent Scripps Makes A Big Branded Content Push

ScrippsScripps Networks Interactive, which owns the Food Network, HGTV, DIY Network and Travel Channel, touts its strength in audience and original content as a selling point for brand advertisers.

It also claims that, unlike other networks, its ratings are up (HGTV ratings were up 8% last quarter while Travel Channel saw a 5% increase).

Across its brand portfolio, Scripps says it reaches 190 million “affluent and engaged” US consumers monthly across TV touch points and another 40 million fans on social platforms each week.

“Personal is the new premium,” said Kathleen Finch, chief programming, content and brand officer, during Scripps Networks Interactive’s upfront presentation Tuesday in New York. “Food Network looks different on Snapchat than it does on Facebook or Apple News and we deliver nearly 1 billion video streams [across platforms].”

Scripps is also using its full-service branded content division, Scripps Lifestyle Studios, which launched in December, to attract advertisers.

Brands like Travelocity, US Cellular and Lowe’s are among Lifestyle Studios’ early customers. Worcestershire sauce brand Lea & Perrins hadn’t advertised on TV for 50 years, but it selected the Food Network as a national media partner to increase brand awareness among a new generation of consumers.

In addition to a title sponsorship, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire was an ingredient in an episode on the Food Network show, “Chopped Grill Masters.” Scripps Lifestyle Studios created custom digital videos and co-branded recipes on, created a custom spread in Food Network Magazine and staged in-store demos.

The campaign resulted in 68% brand recall and a 50% increase in purchase intent. Moreover, Lea & Perrins saw a 12% increase in sales overall.

“The brand becomes part of the story instead of slotting it in a square to fill a hole on a page next to a story,” Beth Lawrence, EVP of digital ad sales at Scripps Networks Interactive, told AdExchanger. “If the consumer says, ‘I get it and this is valuable to me,’ then I think it’s perfectly logical for Reynolds Wrap to be integrated into the content as long as it makes sense and it’s done well.” 

Scripps also uses Facebook to amplify branded videos and short-form video (“How to Make Hard-Boiled Eggs in the Oven” was a popular video for the Food Network).

Scripps guarantees a certain number of social views through its own amplification and also allows the sponsoring brand to syndicate the video content for its own properties.

“We used to be a bit more precious with our content, but we’re bullish on trying a lot of new things and seeing what sticks,” said Lawrence, adding that Scripps Networks was one of Sling TV’s first programming partners and noting Food Network’s partnership with Snapchat Discover.

Scripps has also used Facebook Live to stream footage from the Food Network Kitchen – which reports to the company’s head of digital content – during the holidays. The digital team also archives that content for future use.

Although original video and branded content are big priorities, Lawrence said Scripps is balancing high-touch with programmatic sales opportunities.

“We’re not afraid of programmatic – it’s been a good business for us,” she said. “You either want the machines to work well or send a salesperson out for something high-touch. When you’re somewhere in the middle, that’s when you run into trouble. You don’t want to send a sales person out to snag an order for a low dollar amount.”

Lawrence said she has hired a couple of executives from the Weather Channel to work on yield management for Scripps.

Because the network doesn’t have a consistent flow of impressions all year (there are the obvious surges on Thanksgiving and during the Super Bowl), it wants a full lens into all monetizable opportunities.

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