Scripps Networks has a not-so-secret formula for its two mainstay lifestyle cable networks, Food and HGTV -- find a charismatic, likable TV character that viewers can warm up to, and then spread the telegenic personality across as many shows as possible. For the Food Network, that person is the irrepressible Guy Fieri who we’ve covered in this space before in “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and (more recently) “Guy’s Grocery Games.” And for HGTV that person is actually not a person, but rather a set of (very tall) twin Canadian brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott, who seem to be everywhere on the channel: “Brother vs Brother”; “Buying & Selling”; “At Home”; and the subject of this blog, “Property Brothers.”
In retrospect, the twins were practically destined to become “The Property Brothers” right from the get go. Both of them pursued acting at a very early age and then managed along the way to pick up a real estate sales license (Drew) and a contractor’s license (Jonathan), which eventually positioned them perfectly for the show. The format is fairly straight-forward: a couple is looking to own a home with certain features and doesn’t have a ton of money to spend. That’s where the Scott brothers come in. They help couples find and purchase a fixer-upper and then – within a fairly strict budget – transform the home into a “dream come true” with many of their desired features that are normally associated with much more expensive homes.
How do the “Property Brothers” do it? Well, for one thing, the show provides around $20,000 in free furnishings, which doesn’t hurt. For another, I suspect this “reality” series may (on occasion) bend reality just a tad to keep the home renovation projects within budget. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter how Drew and Jonathan Scott make things work out. This show is working because they are two very entertaining media stars who have been completing (and performing) all sorts of housing projects for years. And testimony to their success is that -- despite having aired over 90 episodes over the past five years (not to mention the dozens of episodes from their related show “Property Brothers: Buying & Selling”) – this show exhibits very little (if any) viewer fatigue whatsoever. Indeed, ratings have been fairly consistent over the years, which is even more remarkable given the general downturn in Live television audiences:
An important feature of “Property Brothers” is that it features couples who do not have a ton of money, so this isn’t a show about over-the-top home renovations for the rich and famous. Still, home ownership – however humble – implies a certain level of income (and assets), which may explain why audiences are (to a certain degree) upscale. Below we’ve broken out ratings by household income and you can see that ratings peak at an annual household income of $175,000 - $199,999 (113.1 Index):
Local Cable Advertising
Over the first halves of calendar years 2015 and 2016, local Cable advertising demand for “Property Brothers” has been strong with 150 clients ordering over 700 30-second spots across 41 Viamedia markets (~55% of our national footprint.) That comes to an average of nearly 5 spots per client. And within the 25 Viamedia markets that exhibited advertising on the show over the first halves of 2015 and 2016, we have seen a 10% increase in ad investments, driven by both an increase in the number of 30-second spots (+7%) and higher unit rates (+3%.) (Source: B.I.G.SM database -- Copyright © 2016 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved)
In terms of local cable advertising categories, Automotive captures 38% of all investments in “Property Brothers” – a figure that is about five share points higher than what we normally see for this category company-wide. Two categories that are natural tie-ins for the show (Furniture & Floor Coverings and Hardware & Home Improvement) capture 14% and 11% respectively – figures that are more than twice the level we see company-wide:
No Signs of Slowing Down
HGTV has struck gold with “Property Brothers” – a show that is defying ratings gravity as it continues to deliver strong audience levels while many others slowly erode. “Property Brothers” has a lot going for it, starting with the fact that it has tapped into the near-obsession of home renovation in America. Add to that Drew and Jonathan Scott -- two very entertaining, photogenic and highly personable stars (who have become franchises in their own right with numerous speaking engagements, books, hosting various events, etc.) -- and you have the formula for a successful home reality series that shows no signs of slowing down.
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Written by Jonathan Sims
VP Media Research, Viamedia