Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Home & Garden TV Network's Success Continues to Grow

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Home & Garden TV Network's Success Continues to Grow

Article excerpt

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Idaho retiree Chris Hoobs has been hooked on Home & Garden Television ever since it went on the air in December 1994.

An avid woodworker and home remodeler, Hoobs wrote the Knoxville- based cable network that he and his wife "feel like kids in a candy shop" tuning in at home in Emmett, some 30 miles from Boise.

They're not alone. Two years after its launch, media analysts are calling HGTV one of the most promising cable networks in recent years. Quality programming, strong advertiser support and "an attractive niche in a pretty crowded marketplace" are some of the reasons why HGTV is expected to succeed, said Kevin Kupinski of A.G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis. Home & Garden's subscriber base has nearly quadrupled in two years to 22 million homes -- nearly one out of every three cable homes in the country -- with commitments for 6 million more. "We have not seen networks of that size fail, historically," said Larry Gerbrandt, an analyst with Paul Kagan Associates Inc. in California, who considers expansion of cable system access a top priority for new networks. The network devoted to "everything you love about home" is pushing into the major markets of Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Late this year, it will become 24 hours a day in Canada. Deals for Europe and Australia aren't far off. "They have earned the distribution they are getting," said Mike Smith, spokesman for Colorado-based Tele-Communications Inc., which in December began aggressively promoting HGTV to its local system operators. TCI, the nation's largest cable company with 14 million subscribers, is impressed that HGTV has spent a lot of time and money "creating a vision and following that vision with original programming," Smith said. HGTV's list of national advertisers has grown from 40 to nearly 700. While do-it-yourself chains like Lowe's and Home Depot and their product manufacturers dominate the network's commercials, the Big Three automakers are among those finding HGTV a place to be. Meanwhile, the response from viewers continues to surprise even HGTV itself. One recent Saturday morning, the network aired its first viewer call-in show, hosted by weatherman and HGTV wine connoisseur Spencer Christian. …

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