No pay TV subscription required: Scripps Networks Interactive is going direct-to-consumer with the launch of Ulive, an Internet video destination mixing full episodes and clips from shows on cablers such as Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel with a lineup of 70 original web series.
Scripps said Ulive, which soft-launched a few months ago, will expand its reach across its current viewership base and pull in new audiences via a "platform where video content is distributed in a thoughtfully curated way."
Ford Motor Co. has signed as Ulive's launch sponsor and the automaker's brands will be integrated into nine custom episodes.
"With Ulive we have created an online destination where anyone can enjoy entertaining and relevant videos for the way you live," Jeff Meyer, president of Scripp's Ulive unit, said in announcing the service.
How cable and satellite operators will react to Ulive remains to be seen. The move by Scripps to bypass distributors could diminish its leverage in negotiating for higher carriage fees, although like other cable programmers the company already makes a subset of its TV shows available online for free.
Other cablers with similar Internet-only offshoot strategies include Discovery Communications, through its Revision 3 division. This summer Revision 3 launched TestTube, a multichannel network with 15 original series available on YouTube and a Discovery-owned site.
According to Scripps, Ulive complements its TV Everywhere strategy, which makes a broader selection of full-length episodes available to subscribers of participating pay TV partners.
The Ulive site showcases new original series as well as full episodes and clips from all of Scripps' brands: HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel and Great American Country. The site is built to segue visitors to related videos, and allows them to share content to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.
Ulive launches two new online originals Thursday: "What Will the Maid Think?" from Bert Kreischer, host of Travel Channel's "Trip Flip," who stages pranks on hotel staff; and "Bonkers Awesome!", a food and travel series from food blogger and author Joy the Baker.
"Scripps has 20-plus years of forging meaningful relationships with its audiences, and now we have a proprietary video player that will provide our viewers with an enhanced and more engaging experience," Lisa Choi Owens, Ulive's chief operating officer, said in a statement. Owens, who joined the company in 2008, has been senior VP of digital media for Scripps.
Other Scripps talent featured on Ulive include Genevieve Gorder ("A Well Designed Life"), Kelsey Nixon ("First Time Mom"), Nadia G ("Sick Kitchens with Nadia G") and Chris Grundy ("Grillin' Up the Party").