Seeking to stem ratings drop, TLC's 'Trading Spaces' to get its own makeover
By Wade Paulsen, 07/26/2004
TLC has announced that its Trading Spaces, the "granddaddy" of all of the U.S. home-remodeling reality shows, will be revamped for the coming TV season after its ratings slumped significantly during the past year.
Many other cable networks (such as HGTV) now have similar shows, and even the wider distribution of BBC's Changing Rooms, the show that inspired Trading Places, may have made an impact. Ratings may also take another hit after the upcoming debut of Fox's The Complex: Malibu at the end of August.
As a result, TLC executives, who milked the brand by expanding it into several editions (even including a children's edition aried on NBC), are now focused on making the show less predictable for long-time viewers. "We've got to reinvent the show, and clearly we should've done it a little bit sooner," said Roger Marmet of TLC.
One idea might be to have host Paige Davis show more skin, but TLC has other ideas for now. At the Television Critics Association meeting, as reported by Broadcasting & Cable Magazine, Marmet said that the fifth season of the show would feature a new idea -- the designers and home owners won’t know beforehand which room they’ll be remodeling -- along with new designers, fresh challenges and visits to new towns.
In addition, the network anounced that previous designer Genevieve Gorder will host her own TLC show. Town Haul. The show, to debut in early 2005, will focus on organizing residents of small towns to remake a public space, such a teen center or a church basement. Since, in our experience, church basements often become teen centers, we presume that Town Haul is still searching for ideas for future episodes.
Meanwhile, another Trading Spaces alum, Doug Wilson, will remain on TLC with the new show Moving Up, watching home buyers and sellers move and then revisit their old homes. He will also host a series of TLC specials titled America’s Ugliest, such as the ugliest bathroom or kitchen. TLC did not reveal a start date for either show, and both seem more like works in progress designed simply to keep Doug Wilson from helming a competing project.
Marmet of TLC defended the network's overall output, noting that "TLC is not just about Trading Spaces. We produce 850 hours of original programming a year that speaks to our audience." Of course, Trading Spaces and its spin-offs make up a significant part of that 850 hours; the network's only other major show is What Not to Wear -- another show that originated at the BBC.