Scripps Points To Travel Channel Take-Off

Ken-Lowe-A

Scripps Networks chief executive Ken Lowe said the company feels the Travel Channel is “probably our single biggest opportunity” in terms of growth over the next couple of years, and programming investment will continue to ramp up.

In the third quarter, Travel Channel generated about $69 million in revenue. That was well below half of what the flagship Food Network and HGTV networks served up, but up from about $63 million in 2011.

Lowe said Travel, which is in about 94 million homes, “could easily, in my opinion, be a top-15 network.”

Separately, Lowe said at an investor event Tuesday he is not sure how soon the ad market may move from a C3 to C7 currency, but he expects it to happen.

“I don't know if it will come to play in this coming upfront,” he said. “It's possible, but I think longer term it’s definitely going to become a reality -- because let's face it -- more and more consumers are recording more and more programming and playing it back over a longer-term basis.”

Lowe suggested that conventional wisdom holds that a C7 currency could give Scripps 3% to 4% in rating points to sell versus C3.

The Food Network has seen some ratings softness recently -- by one metric, C3 prime-time ratings were down 15% this season through October among females 18 to 49 -- and Lowe suggested sports programming has been a factor. He said a similar hurdle came in 2010 and he hopes there will be a similar reacceleration soon.

At GAC (Great American Country), Scripps CFO Joe NeCastro said the network has been “one of our concerns for the short term.” Programming orientation has shifted a bit towards more of a “country lifestyle genre” and NeCastro said there would be further investment, but “it will be measured.”

GAC, which has the lowest revenues of the Scripps networks, had $6.9 million of revenue in the third quarter, up 15%. Distribution is about 62 million homes.

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