Scripps Networks CEO Betting on Growth From Cable-Style Online TV Services

Kenneth W. Lowe, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Scripps Networks -Getty-H 2016
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Kenneth Lowe told investors that emerging players like Sling TV, Sony and Hulu need to include HGTV and Food Network in bundle feeds of popular networks.

Scripps Networks Interactive CEO Kenneth Lowe on Tuesday told investors an expanding range of cable-style online TV services are key to the future growth of his channels group.

Besides looking to traditional cable and satellite providers to reach consumers with its core HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel brands, Lowe pointed to virtual multichannel video programming distributors (V-MVPDs) as added distribution platforms for Scripps Networks.

"Our goal is to be on as many platforms as we possibly could be. So as these MVPDs are announced and launched, we want to be there," Lowe told the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom Conference during a session that was webcast. Scripps Networks has deals so far with Dish Network, Sony and Sling TV, and is in talks to nab more distribution deals with V-MVPDs that typically offer low-cost bundles filled with popular TV channels.

"When you've had the kind of successful networks we've had, especially with women, it's a little hard to exclude us from packages going forward," Lowe said. But he added Scripps Networks was keen to ensure its six networks were complementary to new digital offerings.

For example, Scripps talked to Google about YouTube TV, a new live television service to include a mix of broadcast and cable programming, only to conclude it was too male-skewing for its own brands. "It came down to they really wanted to focus on the big four broadcast networks, and with that came a lot of sports," Lowe recounted.

He also is weighing which new players will survive an expected industry crunch to negotiate for Scripps Networks' channels down the road. "At some point, the cream will rise to the top and we'll figure who will really be the winner here, because there's going to be quite a few folks going after a finite audience that looks past linear television," Lowe said.

The Scripps Networks topper also told the conference he is open to a possible acquisition of Tribune Media's 31 percent stake in Food Network amid renewed speculation a sale might be possible. "With the rumors out there right, yes, there's a possibility that this could speed up," he told investors.

But Lowe reiterated any deal for the remaining stake in Food Network that Scripps Networks does not already own "has to be an economic value that makes sense for our shareholders."