Can Chip and Joanna Gaines’ return to TV fix Discovery’s woes?

Discovery Communications stock tumbled this week when CEO David Zaslav lowered his company’s estimated ad revenue – but the upcoming return of former HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines offers a giant ray of hope for the network. Discovery acquired then HGTV-parent Scripps earlier this year and the “Fixer Upper” stars had already made the … Continue reading “Can Chip and Joanna Gaines’ return to TV fix Discovery’s woes?”

Discovery Communications stock tumbled this week when CEO David Zaslav lowered his company’s estimated ad revenue – but the upcoming return of former HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines offers a giant ray of hope for the network.

Discovery acquired then HGTV-parent Scripps earlier this year and the “Fixer Upper” stars had already made the decision to walk away from the highly popular show. Zaslav said it “sucked all of the air out” of him when the famous couple walked away from television – a decision that joined production issues and decreased ratings as blows to the company’s estimated revenue.

“We can’t forget that in the content business we’re really about stories and people. That’s what [viewers] tune in for. That’s why, a month before we closed, when Chip and Joanna Gaines left HGTV, it sucked all the air out of my lungs,” Zaslav said Monday at the 46th UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, according to TheWrap.

Once the Scripps deal closed and Zaslav was in charge of HGTV, he traveled to Waco, Texas to convince the design power couple to return to the Discovery Communications stable. But instead of HGTV, they wound up with an agreement to launch their own lifestyle-focused media network under the Discovery umbrella.

Discovery CEO David Zaslav said it “sucked all of the air out” of his lungs when Chip and Joanna Gaines left HGTV. REUTERS/Fred Prouser)

“I couldn’t take my eyes off the two of them,” Zaslav continued, according to TheWrap. “They’re great characters, people love them, they want to watch them, they want to know how they’re doing, they love their taste, they built a billion-dollar business with Magnolia.”

Zaslav said he “went to Waco multiple times,” and after dozens of conversations, the two sides agreed to reunite. The former HGTV stars shocked fans earlier this month during an appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" when they revealed the big news.

Specifics and a launch date for the new network have not been announced.

“The details remain a work in progress,” a spokesperson for the Gaineses told Fox News.

The soon-to-be network will mark the couple's return to the small screen since ending "Fixer Upper," which aired its last episode in April of this year.

Zaslav’s Discovery is the parent to a variety of networks, including Food Network, TLC, ID, OWN, Animal Planet and Travel Channel. Perhaps the most significant is HGTV, which finished the month of November as the seventh most-watched network in all of basic cable during primetime, behind behemoths such as ESPN, cable news networks and USA.

Chip and Joanna’s "Fixer Upper" was extremely popular and helped bring a massive audience to HGTV during its five-season run, so many industry experts expect their new network to yield similar results.

While the Gaines' network could be just what the doctor ordered for Zaslav, famed reporter-turned-investment banker Porter Bibb told Fox News that “the doctor is out on Discover.”

“Chip, Joanna cannot reverse the downward trend of viewership [and] revenue sending Discover shares down,” Bibb said. “The concept is good. The talent is admittedly popular, but the demos are all wrong and getting wronger. Lifestyle content is not where new media is going.”

While the company faces headwinds, shares of Discovery have gained 25 percent this year, outperforming the S&P 500 which is little changed.

Meanwhile, a different Discovery network could vanish, as TheWrap ratings guru Tony Maglio wrote that the new network will likely be the result of Discovery buying another existing network or rebranding one of its own.

“Logically, the latter is the most likely play here,” Maglio wrote. “After acquiring Scripps earlier this year, Discovery is now the proud home of 19 cable channels.”

Discovery Communications did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Gaines’ new network will be another addition to the couple's growing Magnolia empire, as Joanna is the helm of The Magnolia Journal lifestyle magazine. The couple also owns a restaurant, has a product line at Target and created the Magnolia Market at the Silos, which transformed their town of Waco into a destination for tourists.

Fox News’ Morgan Evans and Fox Business’ Suzanne O'Halloran contributed to this report.

Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show drops to lowest ratings ever

The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show had its lowest ratings ever on Sunday, according to a new report.

The show, which debuted on ABC for the first time after years of airing on CBS, averaged 3.3 million viewers and a 0.9 rating among adults 18-49, per The Hollywood Reporter.

The ratings come after another previous all-time low, according to Entertainment Weekly, which reports the lingerie brand had roughly 5 million viewers and a 1.5 rating in 2017.

Along with the brand's low ratings, just last month, Ed Razek — the chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret parent company — came under fire after he made controversial comments in an interview with Vogue.

In an article published on November 8th, Razek told the magazine that the show wouldn’t include transgender models because it’s supposed to be a “fantasy.”

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VICTORIA'S SECRET'S CMO APOLOGIZES FOR TRANSGENDER COMMENTS

“It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should,” he told Vogue. “Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.

“It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us. And they carp at us because we’re the leader. They don’t talk about each other. I accept that. I actually respect it…” Razek continued.

The comments were criticized by models including Australian model Andreja Pejic, as well as social media users, W Magazine reported at the time.

“It’s really sad when you see powerful people in our industry holding such backward views and being so comfortable in expressing them on a public platform,” Pejic wrote on Instagram.

Victoria’s Secret posted an apology from Razek two days later.

“My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive. I apologize,” the statement read.

“To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show. We’ve had transgender models come to castings… And like many others, they didn’t make it… But it was never about gender. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are.”

Fox News' Kathleen Joyce contributed to this report. 

‘Thursday Night Football’ ratings hit all-time high for Fox and NFL

It's a touchdown! Thursday night was a big win for the Dallas Cowboys and Fox's "Thursday Night Football" franchise.

On Thursday, the New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys matchup not only marked the end of the Saints' 10-game winning streak but an all-time rating hight for the NFL and Fox.

While the Cowboys celebrated playoff contention, according to Deadline, "Thursday Night Football" is now the leading weeknight football host for NFL viewing, gaining it's highest ratings ever and beating out the other network competition.

Deadline reported that the Cowboys-Saints head-to-head gained 28 percent more views than Thanksgiving's primetime game on NBC, where the Saints defeated the Atlanta Falcons 31-17.

Ratings for "TNF" are also said to be 4 percent over where they were this time in the season last year.

“TNF” made its debut on Fox back in August with Sunday's mainstays Michael Strahan, Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long hosting the coverage.

"I am looking forward to expanding FOX's presence with the NFL and bringing the viewers a great evening of Thursday Night Football,” Strahan said when the show was announced.

Fox has aired NFL games on Sundays for the past 24 seasons.

"As one of the leaders in sports television and a recognized innovator of NFL game broadcasts for many years, we're excited to be extending our partnership with Fox Sports, one of our most trusted and valued partners, to include ‘Thursday Night Football,’" NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said when the deal was announced.

"TNF" coverage will continue on December 6 with the Jacksonville Jaguars playing the Tennessee Titans.

Fox News' Brian Flood contributed to this report. 

You can find Morgan M. Evans on Twitter @themizfactor.

‘Walking Dead’ hits midseason finale ratings series low

"The Walking Dead" has hit a new midseason finale ratings low for the second year in a row.

The episode that aired this Sunday, the midseason finale for the show’s ninth season, averaged a 2.0 rating in adults 18-49 and 5.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Live+Same Day data. The Season 8 midseason finale was previously the lowest-rated, with that episode having drawn a 3.4 rating and 7.9 million viewers last year. That means this year’s midway point for the show was down a steep 41 percent in the key demo and 35 percent in total viewers compared to the same episode last year. This season’s episode is also now not only the lowest-rated midseason finale for the show to date, but also its least-watched.

The midseason finale ratings for the show now rank as follows, organized from highest-rated to lowest.

Season 5: 7.6 rating, 14.8 million viewers

Season 6: 7.0 rating, 14 million viewers

Season 4: 6.1 rating, 12.1 million viewers

Season 3: 5.4 rating, 10.5 million

Season 7: 5.1 rating, 10.6 million

Season 2: 3.5 rating, 6.6 million

Season 8: 3.4 rating, 7.9 million

Season 9: 2.0 rating, 5.1 million

Season 1 of "The Walking Dead" consisted of just six episodes and did not have a midseason finale.

The series has hit new ratings lows at multiple times during this season, with just the second episode of Season 9 officially putting up a new series low in the demo with a 2.0. It fell below that mark with a 1.9 rating the following week, with last week’s episode dipping further to a 1.8. Last week's episode also flirted with a new series low in total viewers, chalking up 4.8 million. The current low in that measure is 4.7 million, set during Season 1.

On the bright side, this week's episode was up a few percentage points in each measure from last week's episode. It was also once again the highest-rated show on cable for the night, with the show currently ranking as cable's top-rated show for the season.

‘Walking Dead’ hits midseason finale ratings series low

"The Walking Dead" has hit a new midseason finale ratings low for the second year in a row.

The episode that aired this Sunday, the midseason finale for the show’s ninth season, averaged a 2.0 rating in adults 18-49 and 5.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Live+Same Day data. The Season 8 midseason finale was previously the lowest-rated, with that episode having drawn a 3.4 rating and 7.9 million viewers last year. That means this year’s midway point for the show was down a steep 41 percent in the key demo and 35 percent in total viewers compared to the same episode last year. This season’s episode is also now not only the lowest-rated midseason finale for the show to date, but also its least-watched.

The midseason finale ratings for the show now rank as follows, organized from highest-rated to lowest.

Season 5: 7.6 rating, 14.8 million viewers

Season 6: 7.0 rating, 14 million viewers

Season 4: 6.1 rating, 12.1 million viewers

Season 3: 5.4 rating, 10.5 million

Season 7: 5.1 rating, 10.6 million

Season 2: 3.5 rating, 6.6 million

Season 8: 3.4 rating, 7.9 million

Season 9: 2.0 rating, 5.1 million

Season 1 of "The Walking Dead" consisted of just six episodes and did not have a midseason finale.

The series has hit new ratings lows at multiple times during this season, with just the second episode of Season 9 officially putting up a new series low in the demo with a 2.0. It fell below that mark with a 1.9 rating the following week, with last week’s episode dipping further to a 1.8. Last week's episode also flirted with a new series low in total viewers, chalking up 4.8 million. The current low in that measure is 4.7 million, set during Season 1.

On the bright side, this week's episode was up a few percentage points in each measure from last week's episode. It was also once again the highest-rated show on cable for the night, with the show currently ranking as cable's top-rated show for the season.