Everything is coming up roses at HGTV, the cable network dedicated to home improvement and real estate shows. HGTV has had a years of mixed headlines, as the liberal media has set it’s sights on the “Home and Garden” cable network. Buzzfeed famously created a story decrying HGTV and the popular hosts of “Fixer Upper”, Chip and Joanna Gaines, before being forced to publish a retraction. If the goal was to tarnish the network, or their shows, Buzzfeed failed miserably. The controversies haven’t hurt them at all according to Ad Age. HGTV is delivering higher ratings, with a sought after audience than all of cable news save Fox News. The prevailing theory is that HGTV makes you feel better than the “news”….
The escapist appeal of looking at other people’s beautiful homes turned Home & Garden Television into the third most-watched cable network in 2016, ahead of CNN and behind only Fox News and ESPN. Riding HGTV’s reality shows, parent company Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. has seen its shares rise more than 30 percent this year, outperforming bigger rivals like Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Viacom Inc.
HGTV’s formula is relentlessly consistent: a shabby house gets a makeover, and a happy couple moves in. A variation on the theme — house-flipping for fun and profit — works too. The network has aired 23 different flipping shows over the past few years. Today “Flip or Flop” and “Masters of Flip” run in prime time.
In the cable industry, though, success is relative. Like other networks, HGTV has lost nearly 4 million subscribers in the past two years, though ESPN lost about 6 million in that time. In a note last month titled “As Good As It Gets?” Michael Nathanson, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, predicted viewership at HGTV has peaked and advised clients to sell Scripps shares. “I just worry that ratings at cable networks are volatile,” he said in an interview.
Since the mid-1990s, HGTV has made its home in a low-slung building about 15 minutes outside of downtown Knoxville, Tenn. Like HGTV itself, the offices feature some homespun touches. The walls of Scripps Chief Executive Officer Ken Lowe’s office feature framed press clippings from the local newspaper, the Knoxville News Sentinel. Nearby, a 96-square-foot tiny house — a feature of several HGTV shows — has been decorated to look like a gingerbread house.
The last year has been vindicating for Mr. Lowe. When he started HGTV in 1994, few people thought anyone would watch his network “about grass growing and paint drying,” he says. For a while, Time Warner Cable wouldn’t even carry the channel in New York City, because, he was told, the metropolitan audience wasn’t interested.
I’d be willing to say that HGTV provides more useable (and reliable) news than the cable news networks combined. As an avid viewer, HGTV has taught me how to increase the value of my home, and the quality of my living space. The regular news never does anything that helpful. You can learn about the real estate market, and investment properties, as well as gaining an appreciation for the many architectural styles throughout the country. So yes, some escapism is part of it, HGTV like the Food Network is part travelogue. I’m good with that, judging by the ratings so is the rest of the country.