Scripps Doesn't Play Like That

Reality shows with no branded entertainment? That's impossible. Isn't that the whole point of having products inserted into content to make shows more financially viable? Apparently, Scripps Networks doesn't see it that way. Scripps Networks - which includes HGTV, Food Network, DIY, and Fine Living - doesn't allow branded entertainment in its shows, believing that it can sour the trust the viewers have with its informational programming where hosts and experts can honestly talk about products without being tied to companies. That's especially unusual in shows about home and food that seemingly are the best and easiest places to insert products.

But Scripps is kind of in the business anyway. It just does it in a more up-front approach with separate programming that is almost like infomercials. The difference is Scripps - not the advertiser -- owns the programming. Calling it 'custom programming,' these 30-minute shows air in daytime and overnight time periods - more recently geared for Scripps newer networks, DIY (Do It Yourself), and Fine Living.



Now, you are probably saying, 'Hey. Wait a minute. That is branded entertainment.' Well, yes... and no.

Scripps research found viewers will accept branded entertainment if the network is up-front about the advertisers' involvement. So, before the start of every show - and that's key -- it tells viewers the show they are about to see will have products in its content that are placed there because advertisers paid for them.

Steve Gigliotti, executive vice president of ad sales and emerging media for Scripps Networks, told The Hollywood Reporter: "I'm not interested in product placement, but I also don't want to see millions of dollars going by the wayside."

It sounds like a good approach.

Why don't all reality show producers do this? Remember what every branded entertainment executive has always uttered: It needs to be organic. Telling the viewers ahead of time what products are in the show is the opposite of that.

So Mark Burnett wouldn't do this for "Survivor," "The Apprentice," or "Rock Star: INXS" because that would devalue products. That would make for unhappy branded entertainment Mark Burnett partners such as Burger King, Levi Strauss, Masterfoods, Procter & Gamble, Target, General Motors, Verizon Wireless, or SLS audio speakers, to name a few.

Should branded entertainment grow like a wild weed, however, it's just the thing federal agencies would be concerned about - the lack of disclosure. They could force TV stations, networks, and producers to slap on mandatory messages.

Scripps Networks defuses any possible fuse here as one of the few, if only, network owners that in an up-front way levels with its viewers exactly how its branded entertainment business is conducted.

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