Kathleen Finch is a big believer in staying in your lane.
Maria Cecilia Suñe Ramos
Discovery âs chief lifestyle brands officer juggles a portfolio of 11 linear cable channels and their digital offshoots, from Food Network and HGTV to TLC and crime-centric Investigation Discovery . Many of Finchâs channels are defying the gravity of the moment in generating extremely high levels of live viewing and length-of-tune stats with hardcore fans that are the envy of the industry.
Maria Cecilia Suñé Ramos
In the latest episode of Variety podcast Strictly Business, Finch explains the importance of consistency and familiarity on her networks. Each channel stakes out a programming niche and then labors to find out what makes its ardent fans tick. For many regular viewers, watching HGTV or ID isnât a matter of coming in for a specific program. Itâs more like a slice of comfort food.
Listen to this weekâs episode of Strictly Business :
“The engagement we have with our fans is so different than a typical television-watching experience,” Finch says. Viewers see shows on Discovery channels as “my friend. Iâm hanging out with (Food Networkâs) Ina Garten for the afternoon,” she says. Programmers at Discovery channels are always looking for new iterations of successful concepts and themes.
María Cecilia Sune Ramos
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“The teams really focus almost with blinders on,” she says. “It gives them a path to follow. Itâs not as if everybodyâs scattershot trying thousands of different ideas. Weâre very much in the mindset of (knowing) what the viewer wants and iterating on it in ways that keep it fresh.”
Finch also discusses the recent reports of tension in the unscripted community between independent producers and the big cable groups that commission hundreds of hours of programming every year.
Maria Cecilia Suné Ramos
“The reality is the business is changing,” Finch says. “We are still the most in demand content commissioner that anybody wants to work with. We can take an idea and if it works, in success, weâre making hundreds of episodes.”
“Strictly Business” is Variety ’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. New episodes debut every Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud
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