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HGTV (an initialism for Home & Garden Television) is an American pay television channel that is owned by Discovery, Inc. The network primarily broadcasts reality programming related to home improvement and real estate. As of February 2015, approximately 95,628,000 American households (82.2% of households with television) receive HGTV. In 2016, HGTV overtook CNN as the third most-watched cable channel in the United States, behind Fox News and ESPN.
Kenneth W. Lowe (then a radio executive with The E.W. Scripps Company and, subsequently, the chief executive officer of Scripps Networks Interactive) envisioned the concept of HGTV in 1992. With modest financial support from the E.W. Scripps corporate board, he purchased Cinetel, a small video production company in Knoxville, as the base and production hub of the new network. Lowe cofounded the channel with Susan Packard.
Cinetel became Scripps Productions, but it found producing more than 30 programs simultaneously daunting. The organization brought in former CBS television executive Ed Spray, who implemented a system of producing (nearly all) programming through independent production houses around the United States. Burton Jablin, as Vice President of Programming, set the tone and oversaw the production of the early series. About 90 percent of the channel’s programming consisted of original productions at launch, with ten percent licensed and rerun from Canadian channels, PBS, and other sources.
Using local Scripps cable franchises (since divested), the Federal Communications Commission “must carry” provisions of Scripps medium-market television stations, and other small television operators to gain cable carriage, the channel launched on December 1, 1994. The major programming themes, unchanged since the beginning, were home building and remodeling, landscaping and gardening, decorating and design, and crafts and hobbies.
During its development, the channel was originally named the Home, Lawn, and Garden Channel. The name was later shortened and a logo was developed. The logo was amended in 2010, with this version debuting on March 1 of that year. The square with the “G” in it was removed, the roof was increased in size and the “HGTV” letters are now set in Gotham Black (from the original mixture of Futura and Times New Roman), with the other Gotham fonts being used around the network. The network debuted with a skeletal staff, but with gradual acceptance by other cable operators, it now reaches 94 million households in the United States and has either partner networks, or network interests, in Canada, Japan, and elsewhere. It is now referred to simply as “HGTV”; the full name of the channel is de-emphasized.
In July 2008, the E.W. Scripps Company spun off the channel and the other Scripps cable channels and web-based properties into a separate company, Scripps Networks Interactive; E.W. Scripps broadcast television and newspaper properties remain as part of the original company.
In December 2011, the channel began broadcasting all of its programming in 16:9 aspect ratio format on its primary standard definition channel. This results in the appearance of black bars on the top and bottom of the screen on 4:3 aspect ratio televisions; its high-definition channel displays the channel’s programming in its native aspect ratio.
On March 6, 2018, Discovery Communications completed its merger with Scripps Networks Interactive and assumed control of HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel.