Scripps Plans Niche Broadband Strategy

Scripps Networks, home to niche lifestyle cable channels like Home & Garden Television (HGTV) and Food Network, plans to launch targeted broadband “channels” on the Web driven by advertising.

The first broadband channel to be developed will focus on kitchen design, followed by one that is project- or hobby-related, with a third likely to be related to food. Several national advertisers — including GMC, LendingTree and Whirlpool — have made ad placements on Scripps Web sites touting the broadband programming.

To support the rollout, the company recently reorganized its Emerging Media group. The broadband initiative was placed under the direction of Burton Jablin, president of HGTV, who was named executive vice president overseeing the broader content strategy for Scripps Networks. Peter Clem shifted from Scripps Productions, where he was a producer, to serve as vice president for broadband programming and production.

Jablin said the channels will feature new video with interactive space planners, 3-D graphics packages and other tools on topics like kitchen remodeling, crafting, woodworking, and gardening. Some of the content for the channels will be reused from Scripps cable channels or Web sites, but the company will also develop original content unique to the broadband channels.

The basic model is to show pre-roll ads before streaming video content begins. Ads are shown before every second video. Most advertisers are currently repurposing :15 or :30 on-air commercials, according to Jeff Meyer, SVP of Internet Sales for Scripps Networks.

“There are some longer form ads — up to three minutes for the stand-alone pieces,” Meyer said. “The short-form ads are pre-roll, running before the videos. With longer-form placements, the viewer selects an ad because it is closely related to the editorial content, to watch it as well.”

For other types of content within the channels, ad options include rich media and traditional banner ads.

Scripps has a distribution deal with Yahoo’s video search engine, as well as longstanding relationships to supply original video content to MSN and Comcast.net. HGTV.com has made inroads into broadband content with its manufacturer-sponsored Design Center interactive applications. It uses video and rich media extensively on its HGTVpro.com site, as well as the “Dream Home Central” site supporting the HGTV cable show.

Jablin sees the verticals as a means for solidifying Scripps’ relationships with core viewers, and as an opportunity to extend the Scripps brands and attract new viewers to the networks.

“Someone who is about to take on a kitchen remodel, or perhaps is an avid woodworker, but who hasn’t become a regular viewer of HGTV or DIY will find us while searching the Internet for information or maybe through a connection we have created with an affinity club,” Jablin said. “We plan to explore affinity groups and we expect to market the broadband channels on the Internet, where we will meet the early adopters where they already are spending their time.”

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