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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

With Lifestyle Studios launch, Scripps makes its multi-platform plans clear

December 15, 2015 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

Well known for its stable of popular lifestyle television media channels such as HGTV, Food Network, and Travel Channel, Scripps Network Interactive has been hard at work bolstering its digital presence with ongoing investments in its menu of original programming for Ulive. Now, after what Scripps Lifestyle Studios SVP and GM Vikki Neil describes as a year of intensive reorganization, resourcing and future-centric thinking, the company has debuted Scripps Lifestyle Studios, a new business division designed to drive digital content innovation and advertising solutions.

The full-service editorial unit will spearhead the development of compelling lifestyle experiences across multiple platforms including social media, apps, websites and third-party digital media outlets. According to Neil, television programming is about creating content for a 24-hour day, usually for lean-back experiences. Scripps Lifestyle Studios will do that while also creating content suited for social channels and for audience’s lean-in needs, such as how to make a birthday cake or a holiday cocktail. The formation of the new division “not only increases our capabilities, but emphasizes our dedication to creating the right content for the right platform, delivered at the right time,” says Neil. The goal is to create relevant, shareable content that instantly connects with digital-first consumers.

Upcoming launches from Scripps Lifestyle Studios will feature both linear and digital talent across multiple platforms and include HGTV Happy’s short videos on simple ways to brighten lives; a Facebook Live day-long cookie party; an Alton Brown takeover of the Snapchat channel, with a behind-the-scenes look at his favorite eats; and revealing sabotage secrets from hit Food Network show Cutthroat Kitchen.

With the new division comes “deeper integration of advertisers into storytelling.” As Neil points out, Scripps Networks Interactive has created branded content for many years. However, she says the formation of the new division comes with a philosophical shift: “We are asking our editorial team to think differently. I truly believe that if you do it right, the advertiser enhances the audience experience. What we’ve learned through experimentation is your structure doesn’t need to be church and state; our entire staff can be thinking about when, where and how to best bring a product in.”

It is significant to note that within Scripps Lifestyle Studios, the editorial side has the lead on branded content and product integrations. Neil says that advertisers trust its editors to know their audiences and best create content that will resonate with them.

In fact, Neil believes that Scripps’ editorial strength will be key driver of its digital success. “We hire very creative people across the board, but interestingly most of them are millennials and a huge percentage are women.” The result is that Scripps Lifestyle Studios is creatively fueled by its target audience. She says you can “feel the vibe when you walk our floors…these people are here because they are passionate about food, travel, home.” And this, combined with elements such as The Food Network Test Kitchen—an important hub of the new division—brings with it credibility and trust.

Neil says the formation of Scripps Lifestyle Studios makes it clear that “digital isn’t a side business;” it’s an expression of Scripps’ plan to build a brand that extends well beyond T.V.

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