25 Surprising Secrets About HGTV Revealed

HGTV celebrates its 25th anniversary this weekend and we're revealing some of the network's biggest stars' secrets, including Chip and Joanna Gaines, Drew and Jonathan Scott and more

By Tierney Bricker Dec 01, 2019 1:00 PMTags
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95 million: that's how many households HGTV reaches. 

One of the highest-rated cable networks ever, HGTV (Home & Garden Television) officially launched 25 years this weekend, quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations for weekend binge-watching and endless home design and renovation porn.

It's safe to say most of us have indulged in an hours-long binge of one of our favorite HGTV series, whether its House Hunters, Property Brothers or Flip or Flop. The episodes are like potato chips, you can't stop with just one. And you really don't want to. 

While their hosts are usually interior decorators, real estate agents or builders, their time on the network has turned them into household names. Just look at Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper or twin brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott, with fans willing to invest just as much into their personal lives as their design and reno adventures. (Just ask Flip or Flop's Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstread!)

25 Surprising Secrets About HGTV Revealed

Even though HGTV is usually the home of feel-good and family-friendly entertainment, the network has weathered its fair share of controversies over the years, like accusations of faking scenes for their shows, a dramatic divorce between one of its most beloved pairs and even having to cancel a series before it even began after a shocking scandal emerged.

So take a break from whichever edition of House Hunters you are watching for a few moments and look back on these 25 secrets you might not know about your favorite network, HGTV...

1. The original name for the channel was originally named the Home, Lawn, and Garden Channel, and launched with programs that also covered more arts and crafts in addition to home improvements and DIYs, including a show about quilting. 

2. One of the network's earliest shows, Designers' Challenge, was hosted by none other than Bachelor Nation's Chris Harrison.

3. Reese Witherspoon is a massive fan of HGTV, even revealing her own idea for a show she could star in with husband Jim Toth on The Tonight Show: Dirty River Flippers. There was just one problem? "We don't have any talent constructing or building, and I can't really design anything," she said. 

4. The average episode of House Hunters takes three days to film.

5. You know those bickering couples you can't help but to love to watch fight during House Hunters? Well, one couple actually split while their episode was still in production, EW reported

6. House Hunters faced controversy in 2012 when A.V. Club reported that a participant claimed the show faked her story, even taking her and her husband to two houses that were not for sale and were actually her friends' homes. 

In a statement, HGTV responded to the backlash, saying, "We're making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints, while honoring the home buying process. "

7. Before they became one of HGTV's most popular pairs, Property Brothers stars tried a number of careers, including as singers, actors and magicians, with Scott, then 19, going into debt after someone alleged stole his plans for an illusion show. He filed for bankruptcy, later saying the decision was "the worst mistake, financially, of my life because I think I really could've held out and over maybe five or six years paid that off."

8. Property Brothers was initially supposed to be called My Dream Home, and before that, Drew was approached about becoming  the Ryan Seacrest of home design. 

"Actually, the first show, Drew was approached for a first show called Realtor Idol—basically American Idol for realtors," Scott told Parade. "It was the dumbest idea ever. That show did not go [anywhere], but they liked him and heard he had a twin brother who was a designer and a contractor and the rest is history."

9. In the same 2014 interview, Scott alleged he was approached to be ABC's The Bachelor, saying, "I turned it down."

10. Was there really a rivalry between the Scotts and the Gaines, HGTV's two biggest design darling teams? That was being reported after it was revealed Chip and Joanna turned down a n invite to appear on the twins' show. "We're one big family, which is why we love bringing [fellow HGTV stars] in to judge us," Scott explained to Fox News. "We know a lot of the [HGTV] talent really well. Our show started airing in 2011 and over that time we've met [Chip and Joanna] once or twice. They were really nice."

11. During their run on HGTV, Chip and Joanna only considered taking on projects within a 40-mile radius of Waco, Texas, their hometown, and in the beginning, they begged their friends to be on the show.

12. At the height of Fixer Upper's popularity on HGTV in 2016, The Hollywood Reporter claimed an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people visited Waco each week because of the show. Plus, Waco's hotel and motel occupancy rate presently averaged about 70 percent, among the highest in the state.

13. One of those hotels might've been used by Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, who weren't shy about their love for the show. "Current goal: Move family to Waco. Infiltrate the lives of @TheMagnoliaMom and @chippergaines. Eat stuff. Build stuff. Smash stuff," Reynolds tweeted in 2015.

14. After five wildly popular seasons (and becoming the network's highest-rated show by a wide margin), fans were shocked with the Gaines announced they were done. In a later interview (after revealing plans to launch their own network), Chip admitted he felt "trapped" during the last two seasons of filming. 

"The more staged something becomes, or the more required something becomes, it boxes me up, and I felt like toward the end of the Fixer Upper journey, I felt caged, trapped," he explained to Cowboys & Indians magazine. "The first three years of Fixer Upper were some of the best years of my life. The last two years, not that we don't look back on them fondly, but they were more of a job."

15. But Fixer Upper made a lasting impact on the real estate market, with their signature farmhouse chic aesthetic taking over, according to RealEstate.com in 2018, with starter home listings featuring Gaines-approved features like "coffered ceiling" and "Claw-foot tub" selling for as much as 29% over the expected amount. 

16. In 2013, a viewer ended up saving Flip or Flop host Tarek's life when she noticed a lump on his throat while watching a marathon. "I thought it was something that needed to be brought to his attention," the viewer (and registered nurse) Ryan Reade said of contacting the producers. When Tarek, a longtime smoker, went to his doctor, he learned the lump was actually a symptom of Stage-2 thyroid cancer and he immediately underwent treatment, going into remission a year later.

17. But no fan was prepared for the shock that came in 2016, when Tarek and Christina, one of the network's most beloved couples, announced they were separating after seven years of marriage when it was revealed police had been called to their home. The former couple later admitted they had secretly been separated for months and had even dated other people while filming the show as a happily married pair before having to make an official announcement due to the incident.

18. Oddly enough, the divorce drama ended up being good for business, with ratings going up 18 percent after the dust settled and fans got to watch as they navigated working together and co-parenting post-split. Both stars also landed their own solo spinoffs. 

19. With 2014's Flip It Forward, twin brothers Jason and David Benham were poised to be HGTV's next big twin stars...until their show was canceled before it even premiered when the network learned of the brothers' anti-gay activist past.

20. Love It or List It, one of the network's longest running and most popular series, has faced accusations of faking events over the years, with the show even being sued in 2016 by a North Carolina couple who claimed the series hired a contractor they didn't agree to, didn't use their deposit for the repairs, and left their home with holes in the floor, spots missing paint, and multiple windows painted shut. (The case was later quietly settled.)

21. In 2016, a spokesperson for the Gaines had to issue a statement after it was revealed many of the homes they were renovating were actually being flipped into rental properties by the owners. "We have no problems with our clients' interest in using sites like VRBO and Airbnb to rent out their homes. In fact, we get it. But we are going to be more strict with our contracts involving Fixer Upper clients moving forward,"  the statement read.

22. There have been eight shows within the Flip or Flop franchise, 10 within the Property Brothers franchise and a whopping 16 within the House Hunters universe. 

23. Since 1997, HGTV has gifted a sweepstake winner with a Dream Home each year, with the most recent contest receiving over 100 million applicants. Sounds dreamy, right? Well, Country Living reported that of the 21 people who've won Dream Homes over the years, only six actually lived in their home for more than a year, mostly due to the unexpected tax burden they face after winning their lavish home and additional prizes. 

24. In 2019, HGTV hit their highest ratings ever (28 million viewers total) with the their new event series A Very Brady Renovation, which reunited the original cast of the Brady Bunch as they renovated the Brady home. 

25. The hit series came after headlines revealed *NYSNC member Lance Bass had been outbid by the network to buy the iconic home after initially being told his bid had been accepted. Though he claimed he made the winning bid—which was "WAY over" the asking price of $1.88 million—he was later told a corporate buyer wanted to buy the property for "any cost." But it all worked out in the end, as Lance ended up being part of the series. (BTW, Property Brothers star Jonathan Scott also reportedly made an early bid on the home.)