BY K. C. NEEL Fine Living is beginning to live large. The newest channel from Scripps Networks last week scored big time, announcing a distribution agreement with Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator. The deal was part of a long-term arrangement by Scripps that covered both Fine Living and its sibling, the Do-It-Yourself Network. Terms were not disclosed, but the added distribution will be a boon to both channels. Fine Living, launched last March, initially was rolled out slowly by its first carrier, Time Warner Cable. But now the network is in 13 million households. Fine Living president Ken Solomon said that’s about double what the network was projecting when it launched. With Comcast in the fold, along with Time Warner, DirecTV and the National Cable Television Cooperative, Solomon said the network is now available in 71% of all U.S. households. Fine Living is also appearing on the Cox Cable system in Orange County. Solomon wouldn’t talk about Cox’s contractual status, saying only that in the cable business, deals are often announced long after they’re completed. In its press release, Scripps noted that the primary carriers without agreements to carry Fine Living are EchoStar and Charter. Solomon said that the growing distribution of Fine Living was driven by its content: The network isn’t a spin-off or multiplex of another channel, and it features 100% original programming. That makes it valuable to cable operators looking to convince subscribers to trade up to a digital tier. “They’ve got to put on services that prevent churn,” he said. The added distribution will help the network’s ad sales efforts. Solomon said that even at this early stage in its growth, the channel’s upscale proposition has helped it attract blue-chip advertisers including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Merrill Lynch. At the Television Critics Association Tour last week, Fine Living also made a few programming announcements. This month, the network will premiere Tricks of the Trade and Smart Travels With Rudy Maxa, shows designed to provide viewers with inside tips on saving money on everything from travel to cell phone service. The network will also launch Sheila Bridges: Designer Living on Jan. 28.

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