Exclusive: Chip and Joanna Gaines on latest renovation project: Their own cable network
Chip and Joanna Gaines turned their home-renovation business into a huge industry and became household names, thanks to HGTV series "Fixer Upper."
But they have bigger things in store for their new cable network, now in the works from HGTV parent Discovery.
The channel will be launched in summer 2020 and replace Discovery's DIY network, the couple exclusively tell USA TODAY. It is expected to be branded with some variation of their Magnolia banner, which grew out of their construction business.
A website and streaming app are also in the works. And the couple will star in a new signature show on the network, among other potential series, that goes beyond home renovation.
"The difference moving forward is Jo and I are going to be able to tell more of our life stories," Chip says. "And so, as opposed to it being a very narrow vein in our universe, which is obviously construction and design and the things we do for a living, for us we feel like there’s a more holistic story to be told here, and that’s what we’re going to focus on."
"Fixer Upper," among HGTV's top series, ended last April, followed by Joanna-centered spinoff "Behind the Design."
"We really wanted a break," Chip says, and got one just as their fifth child, son Crew, was born. But the couple were inspired by the wider lifestyle net cast by their quarterly magazine, Magnolia Journal, and wanted to broaden their reach on TV.
"We loved this idea of connecting with people in a different way," Joanna says, "telling other people’s stories, curating content. It felt to us a lot like what we do love with the magazine, but on a different playing field."
Although the couple fielded several offers – "It's fair to say everybody was calling us" about a TV deal, Chip says – they settled on Discovery after an impassioned plea in their Waco, Texas, living room by CEO David Zaslav, who'd given Oprah Winfrey her own cable channel and just completed the acquisition of HGTV's parent company.
"They have that unique authenticity, and there just aren't that many of them," Zaslav says. "They have real views and opinions on bringing up children, on cooking, on diet, on faith, on education, on design. They have a lot to say."
As chief creative officers and owners of a minority stake in the channel, Chip and Joanna will oversee a lineup of original series that includes those broader topics, as well as other reality stars.
DIY, now in 52 million homes, is known for shows like "Rehab Addict" and "Holmes on Homes." But "what’s currently on DIY is a single thread of what will be a much larger tapestry," says Allison Page, who's moving from her role as HGTV's president to run the new venture.
"What they do and know and love certainly incorporates home and design and construction, but that’s just a piece of it," Page says. "We’ll have stories about family and community, food, garden, of course design, wellness, entrepreneurialism. There are so many facets, at least in television, that people have not seen from them."
And their empire has grown considerably since Chip, 44, and Joanna, 40, were introduced to world in 2014: The couple have a restaurant, a market and bakery, a coffee shop, furniture, paints, books and the magazine. And the Gaineses just bought a Waco castle in need of rehab. ("A really fun project, because we've never tackled something like this," Joanna says.)
It's been a long journey for a show that lasted 78 episodes and featured eye-popping renovations of homes for new owners, who picked from three on the market. Chip was the goofball construction foreman, Joanna the level-headed design guru, and their kids sometimes went along for the ride.
"'Fixer Upper' touched people in ways that Jo and I would never have imagined in a million years," Chip says. "We were just doing our jobs; we didn’t go out with this mission statement to conquer the world or to be a household name. None of those things were objectives of ours."