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Scripps focuses on rights as profits rise

Scripps Networks Interactive general manager Bob Baskerville has made programme rights the company’s key issue as it eyes expansion on the back of an upbeat first quarter.

This week Scripps completed the £65m (US$102.7m) deal to acquire Travel Channel International Limited, which will now be integrated with the US Travel Channel it already owns.

With another Scripps channel Food Network also rolling out internationally, Baskerville told C21 the company was now more focussed on picking up as many rights to programmes as possible.

He said: “Rights are judged case-by-case. We think we’re reasonable partners. Sometimes we may love a show so much and the only way we can proceed with it would be to surrender some of the rights but we don’t do that willy-nilly.

“I think we’re more focused on retaining rights than we ever have been before.

“Back when I was running some of our digital networks in the US I was trying to create great shows for the best price possible and we were probably less mindful of the rights, and now I think only about the rights.

“I would have been concerned about the deals we were doing five years ago had I known what we know now. It was more focused on cost back then.”

The company’s first quarter results, released today, show a 5.3% increase in profit for Scripps’ lifestyle media channels and websites to US$239m for the first quarter.

Revenues increased 11% to US$535m which included $356m in advertising revenue (up 10% year on year). Expenses relating to programming costs and international growth rose 17% to $296m.

Revenues at Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel. DIY Network and Cooking Channel all rose but the Great American Country dropped 23% to US$5m.

As well as rolling linear channels out around the world Baskerville said Scripps was focused on its efforts in the digital space.

He said: “We have to evolve and realise it’s not just about watching television anymore. We have a lot of ambition to go beyond linear channels. If we just focus on that we’ll get left behind and cannibalised.

“TV is still a great business for us but we’re paying close attention to what the next generation of consumers want to see and how they want to watch it.”

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