In advance of Scripps Networks Interactive’s 2013 upfront, CableFAX Community Editor Kaylee Hultgren sat down with Jon Steinlauf, the programmer’s evp, Ad Sales & Ad Sales Marketing, for a chat on multiplatform measurement, grooming talent from digital platforms and Travel Channel’s brand evolution.
How is multiplatform measurement progressing in the industry? Where does it stand at the moment?
Advertisers are taking somewhat of a leap, in saying it’s not exactly as structured as the television measurement marketplace is, but they want the market to grow so they’re working with some of the different research companies that are out there right now. They’re hoping that at some point there’ll be a standard.
In your research and experience, what ad load is tolerated by consumers when watching video on nonlinear platforms?
The theory on that is shorter breaks. If you’re going to make a business out of it, you need to run the same ad load as you run in television…. I feel like we’re heading towards two marketplaces. There’s going to be the first 3 days and there’s going to be the post-3 days. Within the first 3 days you have to run the network ad loads. Post-3 days you can be creative and take shorter breaks. If you feel like the tolerance of the digital video is only for 2 ads per break instead of 6 (most networks run 6 ads per break), most people say digital video should be less—which means less revenue. You’re not going to make it all up in CPM.
Have you found any talent from digital platforms that have become successes on your networks?
We did find one star from the blogosphere. Her name is Ree Drummond. She’s the host of the number one show on Food Network right now called "Pioneer Woman." She was identified as a food blogger, and we cast her in her own series about a year ago. She has been consistently at the top of ratings for Food Network. The show is about a family in Oklahoma; [it’s] about lifestyle and cooking and recipes. It’s a hybrid series—somewhat of a reality show but it’s a window into a part of America—Oklahoma—that isn’t often seen on television—unless you’re watching sports, the NBA, etc. Part of [Scripps programmers’] casting process is following bloggers. Cooking Channel has more latitude to experiment, because the bar is lower at Cooking Channel for ratings. They can try out new talent [who] we maybe identified through digital video.
Travel Channel has gone through an evolution from a branding perspective. You could say that some of your shows are only loosely tied to travel. Are your shows about RVs and “Baggage Battles” really about travel?
The reason why we’re doing an RV show is because the ratings are good. The direction the Travel Channel programming has been getting from the top of the company is to keep the programming inside the travel category. [The network in the past] tended to veer away from travel. The RV show—you’re going to see more and more of it. We’re adding more hours. It’s aspirational.
And “Baggage Battles?”
In some ways, it’s iterative of formats that have been successful. But it’s still true to the travel category. With “Airport 24/7 Miami,” the airport sees it as a service to the public. [There will be] another season soon. The real story about Travel is the ratings. In the last 2 months, year-over-year, it’s up 30% in ratings in Adult 25-54 primetime. It’s probably the best 8 weeks since we owned it.