Move Over Oprah, These Celebrities are Also Getting an Entire Network About Them

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Discovery, Inc. and Magnolia, the home and lifestyle brand led by Chip and Joanna Gaines are launching a media joint venture. The multiplatform media company, which will be called the Magnolia Network, will comprise a linear television network and TV Everywhere app to be unveiled. The venture has plans for a subscription streaming service to debut at a later date. All services will be inspired by Magnolia and driven by the Gaines’ creative vision.

It is unusual for a major cable network to be devoted to a single individual or (in this case) a couple.  The last one that comes to mind is Oprah.  The Gaines’ magazine already generates higher advertising rates than than of Oprah Winfrey.

In a statement the couple said “From the beginning, we wanted this network to be about telling good stories. Stories that encourage new ideas and also reinforce the beauty of ideas that are already tried and true. Stories that when you hear them, you leave feeling inspired and encouraged to go and try something new or take a chance on something that moves you. It’s these kinds of stories and the storytellers themselves–people who are authentically doing things they’re passionate about, that we’re most excited to share with you. Our hope is that when you come to this network, you leave feeling it was time well spent.”

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Chip and Joanna Gaines will each serve as Chief Creative Officers and the current HGTV President Allison Page will serve as President of the new joint venture.

“Chip and Joanna Gaines have become trusted, household names since the debut of Fixer Upper and through this joint venture, Discovery is proud to extend our relationship with them,” said David Zaslav, CEO, Discovery. “They’ve got authenticity and relatability, that special something that is so difficult in our business to find. People love them, their taste, their businesses – they’ve built an ecosystem that aligns perfectly with our vision at Discovery for fueling people’s passions.”

“Our intention with this network is to create and curate content that inspires, encourages, and helps to build bridges across our communities. We want honest, authentic programming that brings families together,” said Chip and Joanna Gaines in a joint statement. “We believe David Zaslav and the team at Discovery are the perfect partners for this ambitious joint venture, and we know Allison Page is the right person to lead this charge. We’re ready to get started and are expectant for all that’s ahead.”

The venture will extend the Gaines’ beloved brand across all devices and platforms to provide a unique, inspiring and family-friendly content experience. Primary elements of the multiplatform joint venture include:

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It is positioned to be a powerful Linear TV Brand

In Summer 2020, the company’s DIY Network, currently in more than 52 million U.S. homes, will be renamed for the venture. The channel will feature long-form programming.  Meanwhile, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) is in 81.9 million pay television households (70.3% of households with television) in the United States.  Winfrey’s Network was a joint venture with Discovery, similar to the Gaines’ arrangement.

New programming will focus heavily around topics including community, home, garden, food, wellness, entrepreneurship, and design. According to the aforementioned statement, “The network also will be home to the complete library of Fixer Upper, which premiered on HGTV in 2013 and was one of the highest-rated series on the network during its four-year run.”

It will Include a TV Everywhere GO App

Extending the experience will be the joint venture’s TVE product in the U.S., which demonstrates the latest GO service launched by Discovery since rolling out its suite of TV Everywhere authenticated apps back in 2016. The product is slated to debut later this year.

“View and Do” OTT Product

A new OTT product will feature live and VOD content including new short-form and long-form content—inspired by Magnolia and curated by the Gaineses—expected to launch following the rebranding of the linear and TVE services.

In her new capacity, Allison Page will be responsible for operations for the network, managing teams based in Waco, Texas and Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition, Page will report to Zaslav in her new role and she continue at HGTV until she was replaced by Jane Latman, who came from the Travel Channel.

Zaslav added: “Allison is a singular talent, a fantastic leader with an eye for developing hosts, formats and creative teams. She has been responsible for so much of the success across HGTV and Food Network in recent years and is the perfect choice to lead this important new venture.”

As president of HGTV, Page led the network to continued popularity as a top-five cable network for women and the #1 network for upscale women for the 12 consecutive years. She previously had general management and programming oversight for HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network, Cooking Channel, and Great American Country.

Page joined Food Network in 2001 and spent many years developing prime time hows for many leading lifestyle personalities, including Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri. She has a reputation as a key strategist and dynamic leader, she developed hit shows as well as successful sales and digital partnerships. Her efforts were key to Food Network’s record-breaking, double-digit, ratings growth and instrumental in the successful launch of Cooking Channel in 2010. Page started her career at CBS News.

“When you combine the power and reach of Discovery with Chip and Joanna’s creative vision, the possibilities are endless,” said Page. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work in this role to help create unique, inspiring and family-friendly content, and I can’t wait to see where this new platform takes us as we super-serve and inspire fans all over the world.”

Financial terms were not disclosed regarding salaries or the network.

Allison Page, President of Discovery’s new joint-venture with Chip and Joanna Gaines announced the first round of senior strategists tapped to lead the joint-venture’s programming, research and strategy, and publicity teams: Donna MacLetchie, Julie Morris and John Marsicano.

Allison Page

“I am thrilled to officially welcome three key members of our senior team,” said Page. “Having worked with Donna for over a decade, she’s proven to have a keen eye for identifying talent and developing formats, and her passion and energy knows no bounds.  Julie is a gifted manager and brings a deep understanding of the audience —she knows how to draw in viewers. And John’s insight into the Magnolia brand and the wider entertainment landscape is simply remarkable, and we are so excited to have him joining the network team. I’m very much looking forward to all that’s ahead for this team.”

The statement continues:

“Industry veteran Donna MacLetchie has been named General Manager, Programming, where she’ll lead the network’s programming and production efforts, managing teams in Knoxville, New York and Texas. She brings with her nearly two decades of experience in creating and producing a successful lifestyle and competition formats including Food Network Star, Queer Eye, Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off and Buddy vs. Duff, to name a few. She comes to Discovery from Jane Street Entertainment, a full-service production company she co-founded in 2011.

Donna MacLetchie, General Manager, Programming.

“Additionally, Julie Morris has been named Senior Vice President, Brand Strategy and Operations. Morris will lead brand research and strategy for the network, managing cross-functional teams in Knoxville and New York. She has been with the Company since 2003, most recently serving as vice president for brand research and strategy for HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel. Morris brings with her a proven track record for designing, launching and directing large-scale market research studies, leveraging key market insights and trends to help teams innovate at the intersection of research, product development and marketing.

“Page has also tapped John Marsicano to lead publicity and communications strategy. As Head of PR for the new network, he will manage teams in New York and Texas. Marsicano joins Discovery from Chip and Joanna Gaines’ team at Magnolia, where he led publicity efforts for couple and their home and lifestyle brand. In his new role, he will continue to represent the Gaineses directly.

“Earlier this year, Discovery, Inc. and Magnolia, the home and lifestyle brand led by Chip and Joanna Gaines, announced their agreement to launch a media joint venture. The multiplatform media company, to be named soon, will comprise a linear television network and TV Everywhere app to be unveiled in late 2020. Additional appointees, programming details and official network name will be announced in the coming months.”

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