Can Chip and Joanna Gaines’ return to TV fix Discovery’s woes?


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Discovery Communications inventory tumbled this week when CEO David Zaslav lowered his firm’s estimated advert income – however the upcoming return of former HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines gives a large ray of hope for the community.

Discovery acquired then HGTV-parent Scripps earlier this yr and the “Fixer Higher” stars had already made the choice to stroll away from the extremely common present. Zaslav mentioned it “sucked the entire air out” of him when the well-known couple walked away from tv – a choice that joined manufacturing points and decreased rankings as blows to the corporate’s estimated income.

“We will’t overlook that within the content material enterprise we’re actually about tales and other people. That’s what [viewers] tune in for. That’s why, a month earlier than we closed, when Chip and Joanna Gaines left HGTV, it sucked all of the air out of my lungs,” Zaslav mentioned Monday on the 46th UBS World Media and Communications Convention, based on TheWrap.

As soon as the Scripps deal closed and Zaslav was in command of HGTV, he traveled to Waco, Texas to persuade the design energy couple to return to the Discovery Communications secure. However as a substitute of HGTV, they wound up with an settlement to launch their very own lifestyle-focused media community below the Discovery umbrella.

Discovery CEO David Zaslav mentioned it “sucked the entire air out” of his lungs when Chip and Joanna Gaines left HGTV. REUTERS/Fred Prouser)

“I couldn’t take my eyes off the 2 of them,” Zaslav continued, based on TheWrap. “They’re nice characters, folks love them, they wish to watch them, they wish to know the way they’re doing, they love their style, they constructed a billion-dollar enterprise with Magnolia.”

Zaslav mentioned he “went to Waco a number of instances,” and after dozens of conversations, the 2 sides agreed to reunite. The previous HGTV stars shocked followers earlier this month throughout an look on “The Tonight Present Starring Jimmy Fallon” once they revealed the massive information.

Specifics and a launch date for the brand new community haven’t been introduced.

“The particulars stay a piece in progress,” a spokesperson for the Gaineses instructed Fox Information.

The soon-to-be community will mark the couple’s return to the small display screen since ending “Fixer Higher,” which aired its final episode in April of this yr.

Zaslav’s Discovery is the father or mother to a wide range of networks, together with Meals Community, TLC, ID, OWN, Animal Planet and Journey Channel. Maybe probably the most important is HGTV, which completed the month of November because the seventh most-watched community in all of primary cable throughout primetime, behind behemoths comparable to ESPN, cable information networks and USA.

Chip and Joanna’s “Fixer Higher” was extraordinarily common and helped deliver an enormous viewers to HGTV throughout its five-season run, so many business consultants anticipate their new community to yield comparable outcomes.

Whereas the Gaines’ community could possibly be simply what the physician ordered for Zaslav, famed reporter-turned-investment banker Porter Bibb instructed Fox Information that “the physician is out on Uncover.”

“Chip, Joanna can’t reverse the downward pattern of viewership [and] income sending Uncover shares down,” Bibb mentioned. “The idea is nice. The expertise is admittedly common, however the demos are all flawed and getting wronger. Life-style content material will not be the place new media goes.”

Whereas the corporate faces headwinds, shares of Discovery have gained 25 p.c this yr, outperforming the S&P 500 which is little modified.

In the meantime, a unique Discovery community might vanish, as TheWrap rankings guru Tony Maglio wrote that the brand new community will doubtless be the results of Discovery shopping for one other present community or rebranding one in every of its personal.

“Logically, the latter is the more than likely play right here,” Maglio wrote. “After buying Scripps earlier this yr, Discovery is now the proud dwelling of 19 cable channels.”

Discovery Communications didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The Gaines’ new community might be one other addition to the couple’s rising Magnolia empire, as Joanna is the helm of The Magnolia Journal way of life journal. The couple additionally owns a restaurant, has a product line at Goal and created the Magnolia Market on the Silos, which reworked their city of Waco right into a vacation spot for vacationers.

Fox Information’ Morgan Evans and Fox Enterprise’ Suzanne O’Halloran contributed to this report.

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