Aspirational and inspirational: That’s the promise from Discovery about the launch of its HGTV Home and Garden Television on DStv. It will also fulfil growing demand from viewers for more content of this kind.
The number one home and lifestyle television channel in the US, HGTV is Discovery’s eighth channel to be broadcast on DStv and complements their portfolio that includes TLC, ID and Food Network.
HGTV hosted a panel discussion in Cape Town to discuss the strategy behind the launch. Panellists included Lee Hobs, Discovery’s SVP pay TV and global brands EMEA, with participants Kathleen Finch (Discovery chief lifestyle brands officer), Amanda Turnbull (vice president and General Manager, Middle East & Africa), Tatiana Lagewaard (VP lifestyle and pay TV production, EMEA) and Aletta Alberts, head of content at MultiChoice
“Discovery’s brand positioning centres around real life entertainment and HGTV is positioned to be both aspirational and inspirational – giving people practical ideas that they can actually use, while providing entertainment and a little escapism,” said Turnbull. “All our shows feature talented experts in their field and not talented actors, posing as experts. Our presenters are real, relatable people, sharing real-life experiences and that’s what our audience love.” Each channel, she added, was specifically targeted to a particular demographic.
MultiChoice’s Alberts said there had been an increasing demand for home and garden programmes from the DStv audience, especially from keen gardeners. “The exciting thing for us is how we can migrate audiences within our brands, because we can actually cross-promote, which means we don’t have to lose our audience from one channel to another. We’re now seeing a lot more co-viewing and family audience engagement,” she said.
HGTV was a family friendly channel, added Finch, saying the purpose of HGTV was to create a robust family opportunity for their audience to be able to sit down and watch together. “We take great pride in the fact that your five year old can walk in to the room and you never, ever have to change the channel. We’re proud that our content is informative and inspiring, never offends anyone and all our shows have a wonderful, happy, feel-good ending,” she said.
Turnbull said there was already much interest from advertisers wanting to connect with the particular audience segments. “Our content drives product purchase as the audience is inspired to make improvements to their living space. Rather than limiting advertising to the usual 30-second spots, we’re including it as part of the 360° audience experience through both our linear and digital channels. We are working closely with our advertisers to create content that works successfully for them,” she added.
Discovery has introduced “pioneer packages” for advertisers and has launched HGTV South Africa with five pioneer partners: Dulux, OutSurance, CTM, HomeBid and South African Tourism. “Because our presenters are all experts in their field, the combination of putting them together with a brand offers credibility and authenticity which is a great opportunity for advertisers and drives engagement with viewers,” said Finch.
The HGTV network, she added, offered important brand partnerships in the US including furniture, paint and the best-selling magazine in the home space, produced in a joint venture with Hearst.
She said they were approached constantly by brands wanting to partner with the powerful HGTV brand, and they will be looking at how this can work viably in South Africa, from the viewer’s perspective. “Often our partners are also our top advertisers, because that completes the circle. But we don’t partner with brands for the revenue alone, but rather to enhance the viewer’s experience that allows them to live the HGTV lifestyle,” she added.
She went on to say that the network was upfront and aggressive in the digital space and offering deep audience engagement with a complete 360° degree linear and digital audience experience always created to be platform agnostic.
“Everything we do needs to service the viewer, no matter where and how they want to consume the content,” she added.
The HGTV Pinterest platform alone offers hundreds of thousands of inspirational photo galleries that engage viewers during and after the show. While viewers are watching the show, they can also receive instructions online as well as getting information when they walk into the store that will help them make product-purchasing decisions. There are also digital spin-off series on social media featuring the presenters giving more detailed information, advice and instructional content. This offers advertisers additional opportunities to engage with the audience.
It’s only four days since the network launched and already the HGTV South Africa Facebook page has 20 thousand followers, an encouraging start.
The network is rolling out global content in South Africa, based on highly successful programming that international audiences currently enjoy, However, they do plan to look at opportunities to include local content with South African presenters in the future.
Alberts said Africa was an increasingly important territory for DStv suppliers, as it was still one of the few territories with a growing market. This was in part related to the expensive cost of broadband and the fact that it is not easily available and accessible everywhere.
“We’re growing by a million subscribers every year, which is a lot more than most regions can say,” she said. “And we don’t see this changing overnight. Yes there are a lot of competitors out there, but they are all additions, they won’t be taking viewers away from what we offer and we believe it will be at least five to ten years before we see real, rapid change.”
Bettina Moss is an inspirational writer, motivational speaker, GlowCoach, intuitive counsellor, mentor and presenter in the field of personal growth and development. She founded GloWoman in 2010.
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