The wildly popular home and garden television channel, HGTV, owes its existence to a simple drawing of a house. When executive Ken Lowe pitched the idea for the channel, he drew every room in a house, describing each room as its own TV show.
EARLY DAYS OF HGTV
In 1994 Ken Lowe, an executive with media giant Scripps Howard Company, pitched an idea for a new television channel. Lowe, along with his wife, had moved frequently to different cities throughout the United States as Lowe climbed the ladder of corporate success. In each city, the self-described "frustrated architect" and his wife bought a house that needed work, refurbished it, and sold the house for a profit before moving on to their next new home.
Ken Lowe's experiences remodeling houses inspired his vision of a cable channel focused on remodeling and redecorating houses. He pitched HGTV to upper management by drawing a multi-storied house on paper. He moved from attic to cellar, describing one television show after another.
By the time Lowe finished his presentation, management was sold on the idea. HGTV first aired on December 30, 1994, to 6.5 million viewers. The launch of the channel coincided with a resurgence in popularity of home improvement as a hobby and an investment, and the channel has enjoyed tremendous success.
Since its inception, HGTV has limited its programming to five basic categories: Decorating, Gardening, Remodeling, At Home, and Crafts. Every HGTV program must fit into one of these five categories. HGTV slates its Craft and Remodeling programs in weekday time slots, with gardening shows clustered on weekend mornings. Evening programming tends to feature shows in the At Home and Decorating categories.
HGTV programming runs interrupted regardless of what happens in the outside world. HGTV does not interrupt its programming for news bulletins or political announcements. Virtually 100% of the advertising on HGTV is directly related to its five programming categories.
TOP RATED SHOWS
The number one top-rated show on HGTV is House Hunters, starring Suzanne Whang. In House Hunters, individuals who are in the market for real estate look at three different homes that they might be interested in. At the end of the show, the would-be buyers choose a house and make an offer on it. The offer is virtually always accepted, and the final segment shows the new residents happily settled into their new homes.
HGTV's other top-rated shows also relate to buying and selling real estate, mirroring the national obsession with the real estate market. Programs focus on fixing up properties for resale, staging a home for sale, determining resale value, and purchasing a home for the first time.
The top ten HGTV shows in the U.S. are:
1. House Hunters
2. Holmes on Homes
3. Location, Location, Location
4. My House Is Worth What?
5. Relocation, Relocation
6. Buy me.
7. Property Virgins
8. House Hunters International
9. Colin and Justin's Home Heist
10. Hidden Potential.
As the housing slump deepens, some HGTV watchers predict that the programming pendulum will swing away from real estate programs and toward gardening and remodeling programs. The idea is that, as consumers prepare to stay in their homes for longer periods, they will be more interested in projects that improve their quality of life in their existing home rather than improving the home for the next buyer.
It might seem natural that HGTV would also offer programming related to food and fine living. However, HGTV's parent corporation also owns the Food Network, the DIY Network, and the Fine Living network, so programs more appropriate for a sister network will be aired on that network, not on HGTV.
BOTTOM LINE: HGTV delivers exactly what is promises: Outstanding content to help viewers improve their quality of life at home.