CINCINNATI — E.W. Scripps Co. has a doozy of a plan to capitalize on its $2.65 billion purchase of Ion Media Networks: It acquired nearly 5,900 hours of reality-show content to launch two new broadcast networks, Doozy and Defy TV.
Doozy will target women ages 25-54 with programs including “Hoarders,” “Storage Wars” and “Married at First Sight.” Defy TV will target men ages 25-54 with programs including “Pawn Stars,” “American Pickers” and “The Curse of Oak Island.”
When the new offerings launch July 1, it will be the first time they’ve ever been available on free TV. They’ll provide Scripps with new advertising opportunities to maximize its investment in Ion, which was the largest acquisition in the company’s history when it closed in January.
“Owning our own distribution gives us the opportunity to enhance our advertising deal through expanding networks and growing the audience,” said Scripps Networks president Lisa Knutson. “These two networks really complement the rest of our line up and expand our leadership in the free, over-the-air network space.”
Scripps will offer the new networks on the 48 stations it acquired in the Ion transaction plus the digital subchannels of its 61 local television stations, including WCPO 9 in Cincinnati.
Scripps already offers Ion, Bounce, Laff, Grit, Court TV, Court TV Mystery and Newsy on a variety of distribution platforms, including over-the-air, over-the-top streaming devices and pay-TV (cable/satellite).
Knutson said the new networks were designed to widen Scripps’ audience reach at a time when consumers are looking for cheaper alternatives to cable television, satellite channels and streaming platforms that are multiplying in number and monthly expense.
“There are over 50 million U.S. households that can watch TV free through a digital antenna and that’s grown significantly over the last couple of years,” she said. “We are forging and will own the largest free, over-the-air television network business when you bundle together all of our networks.”
Knutson, who was promoted to lead the 750-employee Scripps Networks division in October, told investors in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call last week that they can expect “double-digit revenue growth for the next several years” and profit margins of about 40% from her division. Those estimates can only be enhanced by the launch of Doozy and Defy TV, she said.
“This programming has never been seen on broadcast television,” Knutson said. “These are some of the most popular shows on cable and we really think that bringing them to over-the-air or free TV will be a big win for us.”