Travel Channel General Manager Andy Singer addresses the audience at Realscreen Summit '14, along with colleagues Kathleen Finch (president, HGTV/DIY Network) and Bob Tuschman (general manager, Food Network/Cooking Channel)
The ‘Meet the New Boss’ session, moderated by Atlas Media Corp president and executive producer Bruce David Klein, included TLC general manager Nancy Daniels; TruTV president and head of programming Chris Linn; and HGTV, DIY Network and Great American Country general manager of home category Allison Page.
Linn, who joined TruTV in August 2013 from MTV, said he hopes to define and build a clearer brand for the network, while Daniels – who started at TLC in September – says she intends to take the network back to a family-oriented core. Since joining Scripps Network Interactive in November, Page said she has been trying to bring the same passion around programming that she saw at her previous charge, Food Network.
When Klein asked what kind of show is a good indication of future programming, Linn said practical jokes and non-conflict oriented programming were priorities for TruTV.
“We’re going in a new, more comedic direction,” he said. “We’re developing sketch comedy and reality/scripted hybrids. The audience feels the landscape is becoming similar, and it wants to be surprised.”
Page said HGTV is determined not to be “lifestyles for the rich and the famous,” adding that “something that is a dream can be real,” while Daniels pointed to TLC’s 90 Day Fiancé as a show they are excited about. In addition, TLC and HGTV heads said they weren’t looking for scripted programs, but Linn said TruTV is open to the concept.
When asked what his network was looking for, Linn said he would like to see “an amazing cast of characters” and larger casts that will bring opportunities for characters to grow.
Daniels said TLC is searching for “the next iteration of family” as well as dynamic characters like Cake Boss’s Buddy Valastro. Similarly, Page said strong characters and family-friendly content are also key to Scripps’ home category.
As for what not to pitch, Daniels said TLC isn’t interested in non-traditional wedding shows, such as ones where grooms-to-be plan weddings, because their “viewers are offended by that,” while Linn said he doesn’t want anything that feels derivative.
Page advised that pitches should be catered to the network, quickly adding: “But I’d rather hear 10 pitches on what you think we don’t want to hear than two like House Hunters or House Hunters International.”