HGTV looking for formats

During MIPTV realscreen sat down with HGTV's VP of original programming, Anna Gecan, and SVP scheduling and business operations, Sarah Cronan, to talk about the potential for non-U.S. formats and series on the channel.
April 22, 2010

One of the goals for HGTV’s VP of original programming, Anna Gecan, and SVP scheduling and business operations, Sarah Cronan during MIPTV was to look to new territories for potential acquisitions and formats.

‘We’re particularly interested, from an acquisitions standpoint, in looking at British and Australian content, that we’ve historically shied away from,’ says Cronan, who adds they are currently exploring how the U.S. audience would react to programs from overseas in order to gauge whether they would produce an American version of a UK or Australian format or if they would try for a straight acquisition.

To date HGTV has owned almost all of its programming, while most of its acquisitions have come from HGTV Canada. Gecan, who came to HGTV U.S. from HGTV Canada last summer, says most of the partnerships between the two channels have started with HGTV U.S. acquiring a Canadian program for the first season, and if it works it comes on board as a coproducer for the subsequent seasons. But she sees potential for coproductions in the development stage in future. ‘We haven’t really done that yet, [where] we’ve started working together from the beginning, but it’s on the radar, absolutely,’ she says. ‘It’s a win-win for everybody. It’s a win for Canadian producers, it’s a win for us, it’s a win for our partners.’

Recent programs that have come to the U.S. via Canada to great success include Holmes on Homes, which features contractor Mike Holmes as he rescues homeowners who have experienced failed renovations by hired contractors, and Sarah’s House which features interior designer Sarah Richardson as she purchases and renovates an undervalued house each season. The channel also recently brought over The Outdoor Room from Australia and reversioned it for U.S. audiences.

‘The UK, in particular, that has been a leader in lifestyle television,’ says Gecan. ‘There are shows that we can tap into and either possibly experiment with acquiring them or at least make American versions of those shows, we think it’s a big opportunity potentially for us.’

To producers who would like to work with HGTV for the first time, whether they be from Canada, the U.S. or overseas, Gecan says hybrid formats are something they’d like to see more of. In addition, Cronan suggests producers make sure they’re familiar with the channel, but not to be afraid to bring them something unlike anything they’ve already seen on HGTV. ‘As they watch the network and become familiar, just because they don’t see a topic covered or if something looks a little different from what’s on the network now, to not shy away from bringing that idea to us,’ says Cronan. ‘But understand that everything we do has to tie back to the home in some way.’

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.