Food Network chief Judy Girard is stepping out of the kitchen and into the world of home shopping. Girard, a six-year Scripps Networks vet, was tapped last week to be president of the company's newly acquired Shop At Home network. For now, she's also staying on as president of Food, her job since 2000.
At Shop At Home, it's up to Girard to try aligning the home shopping channel with its sibling Scripps lifestyle cable nets. It's a tough business. The success of QVC and HSN is apparent, but there have been plenty of other shopping nets that didn't make it. Scripps has $285 million invested in growing Shop At Home, which reaches about 47 million homes.
The channel is designed "to be the commerce arm of the categories and networks we program," says Girard. That means interplay like crossing over talent from HGTV or Food Network and creating merchandise that supports the cable nets' programming.
Scripps executives have always been clear that Shop At Home won't invade shows on HGTV, Food, or diginets Fine Living and DIY. Scripps avoids in-show product placement, instead letting advertisers support wraparound programming and Web site tie-ins. Shop At Home, Girard says, is no different.
"The viewer will always be clear," she says. "We're not selling to you on HGTV." But, she said, outside of shows, "we will cross-promote."
Until recently, Girard's experience with home shopping was limited to buying earmuffs on QVC years ago. She may not have a retail background (she once was a clerk in a clothing store), but she is an experienced programmer. She says her focus will be refining Shop At Home's branding and programming. The objective: To monitor "how it looks, feels programs and [to coordinate] the link back to our own networks."
Scripps plans to increase Shop At Home's lifestyle, home and food categories. There will still be some electronics and collectibles, which are important categories. The transition, Girard says, "will be done slowly so we don't destroy the business." In the first 11 months of 2003, Shop At Home generated $209 million in revenue.
To assist her on the business side, Frank Woods, who was CEO of Shop At Home when Scripps bought the majority share of the channel in October 2002 and has more recently been president, will now serve as chairman and manage day-to-day business.