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Scripps Takes Ad Pitch on Road

3/13/2005 7:00 PM Eastern

New York— Scripps Networks enjoyed a bountiful upfront season a year ago, but it’s still taking a new presentation approach this time.

Reflective of the way most clients do business with it, Scripps Networks will embark on a series of cross-platform upfront advertising presentations to agencies over the next six weeks, pushing the benefits of its 17 linear services, Web sites, broadband streams and video-on-demand opportunities.

More than 80% of Scripps advertisers “bought two or more platforms from us,” executive vice president of advertising sales Steve Gigliotti told reporters gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel here March 7 for a briefing about the company’s ad-presentation strategies.

In prior years, Scripps only pitched a pair of properties together to agencies.

DETROIT KICKOFF

Gigliotti said Scripps would present its cross-platform presentation to shops beginning in Detroit this week and running well into April. In turn, customized presentations would also be made to shops looking for additional information.

Last year, Scripps vastly outpaced a strong upfront market for cable overall. While many watchers placed cable’s take at some $6.5 billion, with volume expansion in the low teens, Gigliotti said Scripps doubled that growth rate, in the 27% to 28% range.

He stopped short of making prediction this time around, noting he did not have “a good fix yet” on the market, other than to say he expected it to be “bigger than last year.”

When Scripps comes calling, agency executives will hear about the virtues of the networks’ passionate viewers, their appeal among adults 25 to 54 and the affinity those watchers have for products promoted on the channel, the latter coming courtesy of new data conducted by Simmons Market Research Bureau.

Scripps executives will also talk up the total of 2,700 hours of original series and specials — 300 of which will be shot in HD — to be unspooled in 2005 across Home & Garden Television, Food Network, Do It Yourself, Fine Living and Great American Country, the latter of which was purchased last fall.

As for GAC, the network is producing two kinds of sponsorable short-form content.

“Great American Minutes” will soon hit the country Western music and lifestyles network’s air with two-minute slices of Americana.

For instance, segments will detail how guitars are crafted.

In a presentation tape, with Kraft as a sponsor, GAC showcased the care and attention a baker put into backing this nation’s favorite pie: apple.

Gigliotti added that GAC was working through initial production of “Short Cuts,” a series of vignettes as part of a continuing story arc chronicling a new band as they aspire to reach the Grand Ole Opry.

Scripps has enjoyed success with sponsorable short-form segments, like “Food Bytes” on Food Network.

CUSTOM PROGRAMMING

Elsewhere, Scripps announced the formal establishment of its custom programming group, an adjunct to the company’s ad-sales department. This group is charged with creating thematic shows including advertisers’ products.

Hot Trends: Kitchens and Bath began airing last week, running on infomercial time periods on Scripps cable networks, as well on the 10 TV stations owned by the company, plus 75 additional broadcast affiliates.

Five other shows are in production, with topics ranging from outdoor design and entertaining, trends in building products and holiday gift giving. Other deals are in the works.

Among the advertisers involved with the custom programming thus far: Moen, Chrysler, Sears, Lumber Liquidators and Pella Windows.

Scripps continues to exclude product immersion within its regular programming, a corporate philosophy that has rankled some advertisers.

September