Cincinnati-based newspaper/TV group E.W. Scripps rang in its 125th anniversary in October celebrating, no doubt, its emergence as a mini-cable network powerhouse.
Scripps is the nation’s ninth largest newspaper publisher, with 21 papers, but cable is shaping up to be the media conglom’s fastest-growing business unit.
President-CEO Ken Lowe, a 24-year veteran of the company, helped spearhead the launches of nets Home & Garden Television, Do-It-Yourself and Fine Living and has managed the Food Network. All three of the basic-cable nets delivered impressive double-digit growth in 2003.
And while its newspapers and TV stations maintain sluggish growth, ad sales and affiliate fees from its cable properties continue to soar.
To keep up the momentum, Scripps has challenged itself to succeed in a new niche: TV retailing. In January, the company acquired Shop at Home, hoping to complement its lifestyle-oriented channels.
Ultimately the goal is for Shop at Home to become the retail outlet for HGTV and Food Network. Popular network personalities will likely lend their credibility and time to the pitching of products.
It took just three years for HGTV to turn a profit, and the forecast is that Fine Living will be in the black even quicker.