HGTV Builds Rating As Viewers Look For An Escape

HGTV has apparently nailed it, as it were.

Home & Garden Television is rapidly climbing in the ratings within the fragmented cable television universe as viewers seek a “steady diet of programming comfort food,” as USA TODAY described it.

“Programs cover every nook and cranny of HGTV’s genre, from house-flipping to interior design. “

Just four years ago, HGTV was mired in 16th place among cable networks.

Popular shows on HGTV include Property Brothers, Flip or Flop, and Fixer Upper.

HGTV beats out CNN in ratings for 3rd place
[Image by Brian Ach/Invision/AP Images]

With tremendous growth, Knoxville, Tennessee-based HGTV is now in third place in all of cable television, Bloomberg reported today, stunningly beating out, among others, long-established CNN, which can’t be good news for its parent, Time Warner.

“The escapist appeal of looking at other people’s beautiful homes turned Home & Garden Television into the third most-watched cable network in 2016, ahead of CNN and behind only Fox News and ESPN. Riding HGTV’s reality shows, parent company Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. has seen its shares rise more than 30 percent this year, outperforming bigger rivals like Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Viacom Inc. HGTV’s formula is relentlessly consistent: a shabby house gets a makeover, and a happy couple moves in. A variation on the theme — house-flipping for fun and profit — works too…”

“The key, Scripps executives agree, is a refusal to upset HGTV’s audience. There’s no profanity, and on-air conflicts are confined to paint colors or tile choices. Instead of making the network feel trivial, its fans say, the relentlessly pleasant programming is a comfort, especially in hard times.”

Although airing scripted fare rather than reality programming, the Hallmark Channels perhaps similarly also offer viewers an escape from the stress of day-to-day life or depressing media news, with most (but not all) of the shows feature community minded characters living in upscale homes in idyllic towns, driving luxury cars, and wearing nice clothes, and reuniting with lost loves as the credits roll.

Commenting on HGTV’s success for the home-improvement-minded consumer, a media analyst noted in July that “HGTV offers a safe and uplifting environment during these times. It’s natural for people to look to escape with their entertainment choices.”

“CNN paid a heavy price for their political bias over the last year. So many people tuned them out in 2016 that they were beaten in ratings by HGTV,” Gateway Pundit claimed.

HGTV ranks third in cable TV ratings
[Image by Alan Marler/AP Images]

Bloomberg observed, however, that HGTV lost about 4 million subscribers in the 2015-2016 time frame, but that is a lot less than the 6 million-plus cord-cutters who defected from Disney-owned ESPN in the equivalent period. ESPN reportedly lost more than 600,000 subscribers in November 2016 alone. The Scripps Network charges cable providers about 23 cents per subscriber as opposed to the seven bucks that ESPN charges for its programming.

“The average HGTV viewer is a college-educated, suburban woman with household income of $83,600 a year and an interest in home improvement — catnip to advertisers like Home Depot and Lowe’s…HGTV’s ad rates are about twice what other cable networks command, said Nancy Go, Wayfair’s vice president of brand marketing. But she says it’s worth it: Wayfair’s web traffic doubles when it airs commercials on the network,” Bloomberg added.

The channel is not totally free of drama, however, at least off screen, particular given the reported marital issues of the stars of Flip or Flop. A controversy also recently emerged relating to the church attended by the stars of Fixer Upper, which has nothing to do with the show itself.

HGTV is reportedly going global by producing new shows based in Canada, the Middle East, New Zealand, North Africa, Poland and Singapore, as well expanding its social media presence via Snapchat and Facebook videos.

Parenthetically, as of year-end 2016, Fox News is the most-watched channel on basic cable and the fifth most watched overall on TV after the broadcast networks, TV Newser chronicled.

Are you a fan of HGTV and do you watch it for an escape or a form of relaxation from, for example, news and politics? Do you think that you fit the profile of the typical HGTV viewer?

[Featured Image by Ryan Emberley/Invision/AP Images]