In one of the most puzzling reporting changes under new leadership of Warner Bros. DiscoveryChip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network moved from Discovery next to Warner Bros. of the company under hbo and HBO Max Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys. Upon closer examination, the move, which could lead to a Magnolia-branded hub at HBO Max and the Gaines dipping into scripted programming, isn’t all that shocking. He only took the couple two mergers and three relationships to get there.
Gaines’ Discovery journey began in July 2017 when the company announced that it had agreed to acquire Scripps, whose flagship network was HGTVand the network’s flagship show was the Gaines’ upper fixer. It was supposed to be a very short trip; Less than two months later, the Gaines announced that they would end upper fixer and leaving HGTV.
The duo’s strained relationship with Kathleen Finch was widely believed to have played a part in their decision not to renew their contracts with HGTV. Finch ran HGTV when upper fixer started and was overseeing the channel at the time of the Gaines’ departure in her role as Director of Programming, Content and Brand for the Scripps Networks.
At the time, the Gaineses were not in a relationship with Discovery CEO David Zaslav, but they soon developed one. How did he learn that upper fixer, the biggest hit in the net bag he was buying was coming to an end, “It took all the air out of my lungs,” he told the WSJ in 2018.
Zaslav traveled to the Gaines’ home in Waco, TX, where the couple’s sprawling lifestyle empire is located, to lure them back. It was a tricky situation, balancing an accomplished star executive in Finch and superstar talent in the Gaines.
A direct return for the duo to HGTV was all but out of the question, but Zaslav found a way, elevating Finch to Director of Lifestyle Brands for the combined Discovery-Scripps company and orchestrating a media joint venture between Discovery and the duo. Gaines for Magnolia. Network, a linear cable network to replace the DIY channel, and a digital brand for a subscription streaming service. (Magnolia content currently airs on Discovery+.)
“We have this bromance, David and I,” Chip Gaines said on the 2019 Discovery Advance shortly after the joint venture was announced.
Relying on an existing relationship, the Gaineses chose their close ally on HGTV during the run of fixer upperthen-HGTV president Allison Page to lead the joint venture as president.
Chip and Joanna Gaines have enjoyed a special status at Discovery ever since, with their executive page reporting directly to Zaslav. (The same has applied to Discovery’s other two recent joint ventures, Motor Trend and OWN, which moved under Finch’s watch once Oprah Winfrey divested most of her stake in the latter in 2020.) ).
After the completion of the Discovery-warnermedia merger today, Zaslav saw his portfolio expanding massively and assumed several new direct reports including Casey Bloys of HBO/HBO Max, Warner Bros.’ Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. TV Group’s Channing Dungey and CNN’s Chris Licht.
Within the new combined universe, the two joint ventures, Magnolia Network and Motor Trend, no longer have a direct line to Zaslav. In it Discovery of Warner Bros. structure, there are two programming executives overseeing the networks/broadcasters: Bloys and Finch, who was promoted to president and chief content officer of US Networks Group, aggregating WarnerMedia entertainment cable networks TBS, TNT, truTV, TCM, Boomerang and Cartoon Network/Adult Swim to your wallet.
It seems strange that Bloys, who has focused on premium scripted content for most of his career, would get oversight of a basic unscripted cable network, while virtually every other ad-supported cable network, including several from WM that feature original scripted programming, they would. go under Finch, whose background is completely unscripted.
Aside from the issue of the Gaines-Finch relationship, which sources say has improved somewhat over the years, there were other factors in the decision to move the Magnolia Network to the HBO/HBO side and have Page report to Bloys, who oversees everything. the content. scripted and unscripted, for HBO and HBO Max (excluding children and YA rate).
HBO Max has become a destination for female-driven scripted programming with shows like And So So…, The Flight Attendant Y tricks, that appeal to a similar female demographic as the Magnolia lifestyle series. HBO Max has been looking to expand into that unscripted area following the huge success of its pandemic series. Selena + Chef.
The Magnolia Network slate would fit into that, with talk of a potential hub at HBO Max built around the brand. Independent producers who had sold projects to Magnolia told Deadline that from the beginning, the network operated with competitive budgets, generating content that could live on a premium content platform like HBO Max. (Warner Bros. Discovery leadership has yet to reveal plans for how HBO Max and Discovery+ will merge/combine in the future.)
Additionally, the Gaines had been thinking about eventually expanding their brand into scripting, which is now a real possibility as part of the HBO/HBO Max family, sources said.
I heard that this was not an arranged marriage from both sides. It’s been in the works for a while, and I hear the HBO/HBO Max execs have been fans of the Magnolia shows like Fixer Upper: Welcome Home Y The lost kitchen (Except for the controversy surrounding the renewal program HomeworkMagnolia slate has been generally well received).
While Magnolia Network’s relocation to the HBO/HBO Max group appears permanent, other cable networks in the combined company may be on the move.
I heard that depending on who is named president and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, that person could oversee TNT and TBS, which are all about sports. That new hire is also expected to be handled by the joint venture Motor Trend and that cable channel.