“We were seen as too small of a niche,” explained Ken Lowe, CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive. “People said, ‘Great, a network that grows grass and paints walls … how exciting.'”
But Lowe, a former architect, saw this as an opportunity. He recently stopped by Zillow’s Seattle headquarters to share his company’s journey to become the leader in lifestyle media, with shows such as “Man v. Food,” “House Hunters” and “Design Star.”
It all began in 1994 when Scripps — a newspaper, radio and TV company — ventured into uncharted territory with the launch of HGTV. From there, the company introduced a string of lifestyle channels: DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel and Great American Country (GAC). Then in 2008, Scripps decided to spin out the cable networks to form Scripps Networks Interactive.
Today, Scripps’ channels reach viewers in 200 countries, attracting mostly upscale, highly-educated middle-aged women.
“The power of women has transformed media,” Lowe said. “Cable was traditionally male-dominated, and people said, ‘Why do we need a chick channel?’ But they are the decision-makers in the home. …They are smart.”
And perhaps this is what differentiates Scripps Networks from other lifestyle and reality TV networks — they aren’t trying to do it all for everyone.
“What people are most interested in at the end of the day is the homes, the food,” Lowe explained. “We said this is our niche. Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to stay focused and not chase a lot of other things.”
Check out this video to learn more about Lowe’s journey to define today’s leading lifestyle brands.
Previous Zillow Speaker Series guests include:
- Georgetown Brewing Co-Founder Roget Bialous
- Cinnabon Co-Founder Greg Komen
- TrueCar CEO Scott Painter
- Joel Spolsky of Stack Exchange
- Tom Douglas, chef and restaurateur
- Steven VanRoekel, White House Chief Information Officer
- Jay Inslee, candidate for Washington state governor
- Gabe Zichermann, author and consultant
- Rob McKenna, Washington state attorney general and candidate for governor
- Ronnie Chan, chairman of Hang Lung Properties Limited
- Hadi Partovi, angel investor, startup investor
- GrubHub co-founders Mike Evans and Matt Maloney
- Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn
- Adam Goldstein of Hipmunk
- Adam Lashinsky, author of “Inside Apple”
- Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
- John Cook of GeekWire
- FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
- Gordon Stephenson of Real Property Associates
- Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital
- Richard Tait of Cranium
- Adrian Hanauer of Sounders FC
- Steve Souders of Google