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TLC, HGTV execs talk “While You Were Out” and cross-network strategy

In the wake of Discovery’s announcement on Monday (October 29) that it will be rebooting TLC’s home makeover series While You Were Out across both HGTV and its original home, company ...
October 30, 2018

In the wake of Discovery’s announcement on Monday (October 29) that it will be rebooting TLC’s home makeover series While You Were Out across both HGTV and its original home, company execs say they are looking to foster further cross-network programming.

Produced by Red Arrow Studios-owned Half Yard Productions, While You Were Out will feature TLC and HGTV personalities designing one room in neighboring homes while each set of homeowners sends their partners on a weekend vacation to await the makeover reveal upon their return.

Each network brand will air its own version of the same episode featuring the same homeowners, designers and carpenters. While You Were Out originally bowed on TLC in 2002, running for four seasons. The budget for the makeover has been bumped up to US$10,000 per room, up from $2,000 in previous seasons.

TLC’s Howard Lee, president and GM, (pictured, left) tells realscreen that he foresees more crossover opportunities on the way.

“All of this presents such possibilities for thinking differently on how we can help each other for the best storytelling out there,” Lee says, via email.

Since the merger between Discovery and Scripps Networks Interactive this past March, the amalgamated company has been “brainstorming cross-network opportunities” and While You Were Out seemed like a natural fit, notes Allison Page, president and GM of HGTV and Food Network (right).

The series’ revival stems from TLC top brass mulling over what could be a companion to the network’s reboot of Trading Spaces, says Lee. That series was brought back to the lifestyle net in April, garnering solid ratings and a renewal for another season.

Once the decision was made to revamp the home reno series, it became clear that they could do a cross-hybrid version that would work for both brands, combining the emotional element that TLC would bring to the series along with the “how-to” aspects that HGTV is known for.

“It fueled discussion [of] a cross-hybrid version that could work for both brands and allowed us to simultaneously share talent in a home genre that both brands love,” Lee remarks.

Hosted by television personality, model and social activist Ananda Lewis, the series will feature a variety of design talent across both networks. For TLC, talent includes Carter Oosterhouse, Doug Wilson, Frank Bielec, Hildi Santo Tomas, Kahi Lee, Sabrina Soto, Ty Pennington and Vern Yip. HGTV, meanwhile, will present Bristol and Aubrey Marunde, David Visentin, Hilary Farr, Karen E Laine, Mina Starsiak, Nicole Curtis and Vanilla Ice.

While You Were Out is scheduled to premiere simultaneously on TLC and HGTV in 2019, with production currently underway.

About The Author
Senior staff writer Frederick Blichert comes to realscreen with a background as a journalist and freelance film critic. He has previously written for VICE, Paste Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Xtra, Canadian Cinematographer and elsewhere. He holds a Master of Arts in film studies from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from the University of British Columbia.

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