Scripps Networks CEO Tells Millennials "Please the Wife and Worry About the Cable Bill Later"

Kenneth W. Lowe, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Scripps Networks -Getty-H 2016
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Ken Lowe was responding to a question from a young investor urging Scripps to go direct-to-consumer with HGTV, so his wife can watch the cable channel.

Scripps Networks Interactive CEO Ken Lowe on Thursday brought humor to an investor conference about how to ensure a happy marriage.

"You might want to remember: Please the wife and worry about the cable bill later," Lowe told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in New York City during a session that was webcast. Lowe was responding to a question from an uncabled investor asking whether Scripps might consider a direct-to-consumer offering of HGTV so his wife can view the popular channel.

"And you're denying her that privilege. What kind of husband are you?" the Scripps CEO responded, stirring laughter among conference attendees. Lowe added he'd recently talked to his nephew, also a cord-maybe millennial whose own wife wanted a cable subscription to view HGTV.

"He finally gave in and took his wife's advice and they actually subscribe to cable," he said. Despite the floodgates opening for over-the-top TV channels, Scripps Networks Interactive has so far not unveiled plans to go direct to consumer to tap surging subscription online video revenue.

Instead, the lifestyle channels operator remains tied to cable and satellite providers to reach consumers with its core HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel brands. So Lowe on Thursday touted the advantages of HGTV as part of traditional cable packages as loyal viewers tune in to watch ordinary people decide on buying, selling or just living in apartments, condos or houses.

"You can watch people in their everyday lives making the same decisions you are, so it's both entertaining and informative," he said. "This is a franchise (HGTV) that will be strong for some time, whether you put it in a skinny bundle or in any type of delivery service," Lowe added.

The Scripps CEO also addressed what he sees as a misconception about young TV viewers preferring condos. "As millennials start to age ... they're becoming more interested in homes, and in this case in tiny houses," he said as Lowe referred to recession-scarred young people opting to live in homes less than 300 square feet in size.

"There's a little different square footage between that and Oregon. But this is something millennials can't get enough of," Lowe said.