MIPCOM: Scripps Increasing Overseas Push

The lifestyle cable company behind Food Network and HGTV is looking for growth in Asia and Latin America.

Scripps, the U.S. company behind lifestyle cable networks -- Food, HGTV, Travel and Fine Living -- is upping its game abroad. Its moves come as the overseas market, despite bumps here and there and a lingering recession in southern Europe, is on fire media-wise.

To take advantage of the vibrancy and expand beyond its mature business base domestically, the Knoxville-based cabler, is stepping up its original production schedule in several regions abroad and kicking into gear plans to secure carriage and further partnerships in more key territories.

"It's not easy and we're being very methodical about it, but we have a great team in place and the opportunities are certainly there," Scripps Interactive Networks CAO-CFO Joseph NeCastro told The Hollywood Reporter during a dinner Sunday night in Cannes.

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NeCastro, who was recently charged by company chairman Ken Lowe to increase Scripps' international biz, added that currently the proportion of foreign revenues raked in by the company was only 5 percent of its total but his projections to Wall Street are for foreign revenues to account for 20 percent of the total within five years. (Domestically, the company's stock price recently hit an all-time high of $80 a share.)

The company set up a beachhead abroad five years ago and now has small dedicated management and creative teams in the U.K., Singapore and Sao Paolo. Scripps' biggest overseas success so far: the popular Food Network in Britain on UKTV, with whom Scripps now has a joint venture and a variety of shows originated there under the direction of Nick Thorogood.

On Sunday night Thorogood, whose title is SVP Content and Marketing, said six new nonfiction shows would be launched in the U.K. in the coming year including one called Luxury Uncovered for Travel, the star of which, Jenny Powell, was on hand to regale reporters at the dinner.

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"HGTV, Food and Travel are in the top ten domestically and our goal now is to replicate that success abroad," Scripps Interactive International president Jim Samples told the attendees. A veteran of the trenches overseas, he has been at the helm of the company's foreign efforts for some 18 months.

Scripps channels have created for themselves a loyal viewer base in the U.S., especially among high-end adult women. The company also controls a trio of other outlets Stateside: DIY, Great American Country and Cooking. The idea is to take these too beyond national borders. The company is next looking to expand to Latin America.