Chip and Joanna Gaines, the Waco, TX-based duo known for hosting HGTV’s Fixer Upper, will front a new direct-to-consumer streaming service, Discovery CEO David Zaslav indicated this morning on the company’s quarterly earnings call.
The offering will accompany the new linear TV partnership with Discovery that the couple announced last November. Discovery has run HGTV since acquiring Scripps Networks Interactive last year.
“We have a real vision for that in terms of going direct to consumer,” Zaslav said during the call with Wall Street analysts to discuss Discovery’s fourth-quarter results. He did not lay out specific plans for the DTC service or offer many details about the linear TV plans, but said the management team is “hard at work” on the initiatives. Zaslav suggested that programming from the Gaineses would be added to an existing Discovery network that he did not identify, taking a channel that is “doing OK and taking it to the next level.”
Discovery already pulled off a similar move a decade ago when it teamed with Oprah Winfrey to create OWN, which replaced Discovery Health in 2011.
Zaslav’s comments came in response to an analyst’s question about the task of managing a large portfolio of networks in a re-bundling TV marketplace. He acknowledged that about 85% of the company’s carriage-fee revenue derives from its top six to eight networks, but maintained that Discovery is looking to expand in an environment where most programmers are moving in the opposite direction. “In the past couple of years, we have been unique in our ability to grow,” he said. “No other media companies have added networks.”
The Gaineses, he said, “built an ecosystem” with their Magnolia brand that dovetails with Discovery’s push to expand revenue opportunities beyond advertising and carriage fees. “We’re reconnecting with them and we’re excited about what we can do together.”
The partnership, Zaslav added, matches Discovery’s core mission of delivering “big characters and big personalities that people love and want to spend time with.”