Johannesburg — Discovery and MultiChoice will add the HGTV channel to its DStv satellite pay-TV service from mid-July, bringing DStv subscribers a new TV channel with fresh content about home improvement, do-it-yourself house renovations, design, real estate and gardening.
Channel24 can reveal that HGTV will launch on 15 July on DStv and will be available to DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus and DStv Compact subscribers in South Africa.
It's not yet known whether HGTV, which initially stood for "Home and Garden Television" when it started in 1994, will launch as a high-definition (HD) channel on DStv in South Africa.
HGTV ended 2018 as the 4th most watched pay-TV channel in the United States, where it is the leading home and lifestyle channel and often gets cited by pay-TV subscribers as one of the "must-keep channels" and one of the reasons why viewers pay for subscription television.
In November 2017 MultiChoice did a 3-week marketing research tryout of HGTV on DStv, when the channel was run as a prime time content block on the Travel Channel during weekdays and over weekends. It led to a hugely favourable response from DStv subscribers.
Besides America, HGTV is already available in Canada, the Caribbean, Asia and Australia and will also launch in Germany in June, marking the channel's first European rollout since Discovery completed its takeover of Scripps Networks Interactive in 2018.
Former Scripps sister channels - now all belonging to Discovery like the Travel Channel (DStv 179 / Cell C black 255), the Food Network (DStv 175) and Fine Living (Cell C black 251 / StarSat 281) - are already available in South Africa and throughout the continent on various pay-TV services.
Yet the addition of HGTV makes it Discovery Inc.'s first channel brand from what was Scripps, to be launched in South Africa and Africa as Discovery realigns and scales its expanded collection of lifestyle channels in the territory.
HGTV's content covers six basic pillars, ranging from buying and selling property, home renovation, investing in improving property to sell it for a profit (flipping), home improvement and dream homes.
HGTV will launch with an extensive slate of home interest programming, with many of the shows on the schedule during South African prime time that have never been seen here on television before or are first-to-market episodes.
The home improvement and aspirational property programming on HGTV will aim to help DStv subscribers with inspiration, instruction about renovations and the selling and buying of homes, as well as providing entertainment, fresh ideas, the latest trends, and access to celebrity homes and sought-after real estate listings across the globe.
"HGTV shows were placed on the Travel Channel in late-2017, and the content flew. HGTV is now going to launch on 15 July on DStv, and we're very, very excited about the content on the channel," says Henry Windridge, the head of brand at Discovery Inc. for the African and Middle East region. "It's very much focused on the genres that we know work very well in the United States. Renovation shows, for instance, are such a core part of HGTV. It's not about decorating."
HGTV'S PROGRAMMING SLATE
HGTV's programming launch line-up on DStv between 20:00 and 22:00 will be stratified according to days of the week that will each have a soft theme.
Viewers will be able to see property buying and selling shows on Mondays, renovation shows on Tuesdays, property seeking shows on Wednesdays, property flipping shows on Thursdays, renovation and flipping shows on Fridays, "tiny" home shows on Saturdays, and ending with aspirational and dream home shows on Sundays.
On Mondays, DStv subscribers will be able to watch shows like My Lottery Dream Home and Beachfront Bargain Hunt Renovation; Good Bones and Home Town on Tuesdays; House Hunters USA and House Hunters Renovations on Wednesdays; and Flip or Flop Nashville and Boise Boys on Thursdays.
Flip or Flop Atlanta and Lakefront Bargain Hunt Renovation will be shown on Fridays; Tiny House, Big Living and Tiny Paradise on Saturdays; and with Sundays belonging to Beachfront Bargain Hunt and Mediterranean Life.
House Hunters International will remain on the Travel Channel.
COMPETITION FOR THE HOME CHANNEL
The addition of HGTV from mid-July to DStv will, however, be direct competition - its first - for the 11-year old The Home Channel that launched on MultiChoice's platform as a stand-alone channel in October 2007.
The Home Channel (DStv 176) from the Tiso Blackstar Group, has ironically been acquiring and showing a broad slate of programming from what was Scripps and produced by its HGTV channel for years, like the popular Property Brothers fronted by the twin brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott.
None of these HGTV shows are available or will be sold to The Home Channel anymore, with existing international licensing broadcasting rights that won't be renewed once they run out.
It means that The Home Channel will have to find new content elsewhere in the months ahead - either through searching and secure new international content for its schedule to replace the gaps or by ramping up its quota of locally produced shows in South Africa.
Channel24 asked Discovery about the change of keeping original HGTV programming back for HGTV since the channel will now have its own presence and space in the South African TV market.
"Scripps had a very different idea, they were really into content sales, whereas with Discovery our view is that it's our content, it's on our channels, and we're quite jealous about it. So all of those deals will have to cease; none of them will be renewed," said Amanda Turnbull, the vice president and general manager for Discovery Inc. in Africa and the Middle East.
"We have and will honour existing deals but as soon as those are finished the content will come to our channels because what we do is build channel brands and for us, it's really important."