Scripps Networks, home to popular cable channels Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel, is a huge success. Currently, the network is worth $10.2 billion.
However, Scripps didn’t start out as a huge media conglomerate. When CEO Kenneth Lowe, 59, started what is now Scripps Networks in 1994, which branched off from E.W. Scripps in 2008, he was given a mere $25 million to help turn his idea into a success.
He decided to relocate his new network to Knoxville, so employees could “live the brand” and tinker “with their own homes, cooking in big kitchens and gardening in ample yards,” according to Forbes.
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The offices are located in the Great Smoky Mountains around a lake, where employees even hold meetings in paddleboats.
But before there were paddleboats and a billion dollar company, Lowe started by churning out shows like “Wine Cellar” and “Garden Party” which aired multiple times a day to fill up space.
In order to grab viewers, he had to come to an agreement with cable companies to broadcast his new channel. The deal they struck was to retransmissit Scripps’ local networks at a low rate if the same providers also aired his new lifestyle television shows. The deal worked out, netting him 10 million viewers right away.
At the time, there weren’t many other lifestyle type networks on air. One of the few that was around though, was Food Network, who had a certain Cajun chef with a taste for spicy foods.
The network was owned by Providence Journal and other cable operators and broadcasted shows like “How To Boil Water”. Perhaps worse than their programming, Food Network was stuck in deal which allowed cable providers to televise the network for free for 10 years.
Lowe still saw potential in the company, especially with the help of that certain Cajun chef, Emeril Lagasse. Lowe purchased the fledgling network who had a “dingy Manhattan studio” in 1997 and started rebranding.
“I don’t even know how we had a health permit,” Lowe said.
Despite its’ shortcomings, as soon as the famous catch phrase “Let’s kick it up a notch!” began blurting out of televisions, crowds and advertising began pouring in. With Lagasse’s success as a chef, Lowe was able to pump out other celebrity chefs like Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay and Candice Olsen.
Now, Scripps Networks is trading at an all-time high of $68 per share according to Forbes. E.W. Scripps or “old Scripps”, by comparison, is now worth around $700 million.