Chip and Joanna Gaines made their fortune with “Fixer Upper,” a reality show on HGTV about the couple’s efforts to restore old houses and buildings. They’re now worth an estimated $10 million each. They followed that up with the cooking show “Magnolia Table,” in which Joanna prepares her favorite recipes for the Food Network’s audience.
This month, they became studio executives with the launch of their own network, Magnolia Network.
Here’s how it works. Magnolia debuted as a lifestyle channel on discovery+, Discovery Inc.’s streaming service, this month, according to the Associated Press. Next, Magnolia Network will hit cable, replacing Discovery’s DIY network in January of next year.
Chip and Joanna Gaines Chose an Interesting Time to Launch a Cable Network
“We couldn’t have chosen a worse time to have done this,” Chip told the Hollywood Reporter last month of their move into cable TV.
Why? Because, as the Pew Research Center recently noted, cable TV audiences have shrunk dramatically in just the past six years.
In a March survey, Pew found that the share of Americans who watch cable or satellite TV has dropped from 76% in 2015 to 56% in 2021.
A strong majority of Americans said the cost of cable and satellite TV is too high and they can find the content they want online. Meanwhile, streaming is growing in popularity among young adults, six in 10 of whom use streaming services to watch TV.
In fact, Chip went on to compare their cable network launch to the couple’s investment in a housing development right around the time the housing bubble burst over a decade ago. That decision almost bankrupted them, he said. They hope this one turns out better.
The Couple Aren’t Trying to Save Cable
“I think the timing is actually pretty fortuitous and coming right at the moment when people are looking for inspiration of where to go,” Allison Page, the president of Discovery, Inc.’s joint venture with Magnolia, told the AP.
But Chip and Joanna Gaines aren’t naïve. They aren’t betting everything on the cable network. Their digital-first launch will give them some lead time to fine-tune their offerings before they weather the harsher climate of cable next year.
“We can’t stop cable from dying, that’s not our mission,” Joanna told THR. “But while it’s still available, we hope you spend an hour or five with us and leave feeling like it was time well spent.”
The couple’s millions of fans suggest they may still be able to bring some audience share back to cable TV. And if not, there’s always streaming.