Former Fixer Upper co-hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines, whose Waco-based Magnolia is a fast-rising lifestyle power, took the stage at Discovery’s upfront Wednesday evening to celebrate their newly minted joint venture.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav laid it on thick in his introduction, comparing the duo to Discovery partners such as Oprah Winfrey and Tiger Woods in terms of their appeal to viewers. He also invoked Julia Child’s impact on home cooking and the even broader legacy of Martha Stewart.
“They will change people’s lives,” Zaslav said during the company’s upfront presentation to media buyers at New York’s Alice Tully Hall. “When I found out they had left HGTV, I couldn’t breathe. It took all of the air out of my lungs.” Discovery’s $14.6 billion acquisition of HGTV parent Scripps Networks Interactive closed about a year ago, following an announcement from the Gaineses that they were taking a break from television.
During that interregnum and while the regulatory review of the merger was concluding, Zaslav said he awoke one morning at 3AM for a flight from Las Vegas to the Gaines base in Waco, Texas, for a pitch meeting. “When you see them on the screen, you want to grab the remote and un-mute the TV because you want to hear what they have to say,” he explained.
In addition to rebranding former Scripps network DIY, plans call for a range of streaming programs, including an eventual subscription service. But Chip Gaines said the pair responded most to the enthusiasm of Zaslav, a former NBC sales executive known for being able to sell sand in the desert.
“We’ve got this bromance going on, David and I,” Chip Gaines said during a rambling, five-minute speech punctuated by numerous references to the couple’s 9-month-old baby boy and five kids overall. He saluted Zaslav’s passion for mapping out a business plan, which will see the couple take over the DIY network in summer 2020.
“If we can make it, anybody can make it. If a couple from Waco, Texas can be in New York with all of you, then anyone can do it,” Gaines said. “And our network is going to deliver those kinds of stories.”
No programming details were revealed during the presentation, whose main purpose appeared to be to unveil the teaming and signal to media buyers the potential value down the line. Joanna Gaines, apart from an amusing interjection urging her husband to wrap up his discursive remarks, did not address the crowd.