Chip and Joanna Gaines have made a name for themselves with their talent for home renovations. They are now ready to put their skills to work building a complete television network.
The couple known for restoring old homes and buildings in styles ranging from industrial to farmhouse are making the transition to television executives with the launch of the first steps to their Magnolia network on Thursday. It will feature dozens of hours of new unscripted content and archival shows.
“It’s become a passion project for us and we’re so excited about it. And now we’re finally here, and we can’t wait to show the world what we’ve been working on,” Joanna Gaines said.
Shows will range from Atlanta-based farmer Jamila Norman helping families transform their outdoor spaces to designer Brian Patrick Flynn beautifying indoor spaces. Motels get a makeover in one show and vans are transformed into tiny homes in another.
Joanna Gaines points out that what Magnolia Network will primarily offer isn’t so much scripted shows as “real people doing real things.”
“The thing that I think wakes us up in the morning and gets us going is the idea that we can tell people’s stories,” she added.
Andrew Zimmern, an Emmy and four James Beard Award-winning television chef, has signed on to host “Family Dinner,” in which he visits families across America to hear their stories and explore their food history. He has known the Gaineses for many years.
“They’re very authentic. They are who they are. They’re consistent. They’re dependable. They believe in taking risks and being vulnerable,” he said. “They didn’t put any limits on what kind of show I was going to do. They basically let me do whatever show I thought was important.”
Another host they exploited was Clint Harp, a carpenter who had been featured on the couple’s influential show “Fixer Upper.” Harp will begin “Restoration Road with Clint Harp”, after traveling across the country in search of items to repair.
“Joanna didn’t have to call me to continue making furniture for ‘Fixer Upper’. She didn’t have to. They were fine on their own,” he said. continued to give me opportunities. And I’ve said that to her before and in front of other people, how grateful I am… And of course every time that phone rang and I saw her name on it, it was like, ‘ Yes what’s up ? Let’s go!'”
The lifestyle channel will make its digital debut first, on Discovery+ and the Magnolia app. Viewing requires a Discovery + Streaming subscription, which starts at $5 per month and includes the app. Magnolia Network will then take over Discovery’s DIY Network when it hits cable in January 2022. Chip and Joanna Gaines aren’t promising the same old programming.
“I think it’s pretty good that we don’t come from a background that understands television, honestly, because then we’d be kind of stuck in our minds about ‘OK, we need a formula, we need a format,” Joanna Gaines said. “For us, it was just like, ‘No, we want to find people who do this authentically. We want to tell their story. We’re not going to shape their story.'”
The launch comes at an interesting time in the lifestyle ecosystem, when many people locked down during the pandemic are eager to get out of their homes and travel.
“I think the timing is actually quite fortuitous and comes just as people are looking for inspiration on where to go,” said Allison Page, president of Discovery, Inc.’s joint venture with Magnolia.
The couple also found encouragement from another personality who built a television empire – Oprah Winfrey. Chip and Joanna Gaines met Winfrey almost recently and came away inspired: “Something about it really made us believe it was possible,” said Chip Gaines. “That she really believed in us meant a lot to us.”
Chip and Joanna Gaines shot to fame in 2013 in Waco, Texas with their show “Fixer Upper.” This led to a lifestyle magazine and books as well as clothing, furniture and design lines, all under the Magnolia umbrella. At first, they confess that they felt weird.
“The first two seasons of ‘Fixer,’ Jo and I were like fish out of water. We had no idea what this universe was like,” Chip Gaines said.
Their decision to end “Fixer Upper” in 2017 came at the height of its popularity, but the Gaines seemed to signal they were fed up, rubbing shoulders with production demands.
“Jo and I moved pretty quickly through Seasons 1 and 2 until we had some real expectations of what ‘Fixer Upper’ should be, how it should feel and what it should be about” , said Chip Gaines.
“And the production company had formats they needed to fit us into. And those things started to come together more frequently than in the first two seasons.”
In a sign of rebirth, the new Magnolia Network brand will launch with a nine-episode reboot of “Fixer Upper,” which the pair are now producing, subtitled “Welcome Home.”
The biggest change the couple are now facing is that they are not just playing the leading role among other entrepreneurs in the world of design, food, home and garden, they are now employers. They may have to cancel shows, but Page said Magnolia Network won’t operate like typical networks.
“The way Chip and Jo define success is probably different than your average media outlet in terms of ‘Are we proud of the shows? Do the people who watch it love it, and what makes us well balanced and fully realized as a brand?’ And that can end up being shows that are liked and shows that are liked by fewer people and that can be OK,” Page said.
With all the changes, one thing remains: the couple won’t be watching — even their own network — on a traditional TV. They watch on mobile devices and computers at home, but they haven’t owned a TV in 18 years and have no plans to start now.
“There’s still no TV in the Gaines house. And I’m proud to announce that. You stick to your guns. I stick to my guns,” Chip Gaines said.