19 April 1993
United States of America
November 22, 1993; 23 years ago (1993-11-22)
Television Food Network, G.P.(Scripps Networks Interactive [70%],Tribune Cable Ventures [30%])
UK:0.18%0.02% (+1) (September 2015 (2015-09), BARB)
Scripps Networks Interactive, Tribune Media
Chopped, The Next Food Network, Cutthroat Kitchen, Worst Cooks in America, The Kitchen
Food Network (legally known as Television Food Network) is an American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned by Television Food Network, G.P., a joint venture between Scripps Networks Interactive (which owns 70% of the network) and the Tribune (FN) Cable Ventures Inc. (which owns the remaining 30%). Despite this ownership structure, the channel is managed as a division of Scripps Networks Interactive. The channel airs both specials and regular episodic programs about food and cooking.
- US station
- UK and international
- Food Network video game
- Food Network around the world
- Television Food Network GP
As of February 2015, Food Network is available to approximately 96,931,000 pay television households (83.3% of households with television) in the United States.
Food Network was founded on April 19, 1993 as "TV Food Network" and was launched on November 22 of that year; its legal name remains Television Food Network, G.P. Within a few years, the network had shortened its on-air brand name by removing the "TV" from its name. It was developed by Reese Schonfeld (one of the founders of CNN), under the direction of Providence Journal president Trygve Myrhen. Its original partners included the Journal itself, Adelphia, Scripps-Howard, Continental Cablevision, Cablevision, and most importantly, the Tribune Company, which provided the network's technical output. The network was initially launched as a preview in September 1993 with two initial shows featuring David Rosengarten, Donna Hanover, and Robin Leach.
Schonfeld, who was also a partner in the company, was appointed as managing director of TV Food Network and maintained a spot on its management board along with two Providence Journal employees. The original lineup for the network included Emeril Lagasse (Essence of Emeril), Debbi Fields, Donna Hanover, David Rosengarten, Curtis Aikens, Dr. Louis Arrone, Jacques Pépin, and Robin Leach. The following year, the network acquired the rights to the Julia Child library from WGBH.
In 1995, Schonfeld resigned as managing director of the network, but remained on its board until 1998, when he sold his interest in the company to Scripps. Erica Gruen was hired as president/CEO of the network in 1996, becoming only the second woman in history to be CEO of a U.S. television network, and led it to explosive growth through 1998, tripling the subscriber base, viewership and revenue. In fact, in 1997, it was the second fastest growing cable network. Gruen changed the brand positioning from Schonfeld's "TV for people who cook" to "TV for everyone who loves to eat," thereby greatly improving the appeal to viewers and advertisers, and saving the network from bankruptcy. Greg Willis and Cathy Rasenberger were the two of the original members of the start-up team who led the affiliate sales and marketing of the company from 1995 to 1998. Greg Willis served as senior vice president of worldwide distribution until he left to join Liberty Media in 1998.
The A. H. Belo Corporation acquired Food Network when it purchased The Providence Journal Company in 1996. Myrhen left the Journal Company the following year. Belo sold the network to the E. W. Scripps Company in 1997, in a trade deal that resulted in Belo acquiring the television-radio station combination of KENS-AM/TV in San Antonio, Texas. In March 2009, the Food Network launched a repurposed Food.com as a bookmarking site that allows users to aggregate and search for recipes from different sources online.
Food Network was first launched outside of North America in the United Kingdom on November 9, 2009, and in Asia on July 5, 2010 (on StarHub TV channel 433 and in HD on channel 468). Since the UK launch on November 9, 2009 on Sky, the channel has been added to the Freesat, Freeview and Virgin Media platforms.
Food Network programming is divided into a daytime block known as "Food Network in the Kitchen" and a primetime lineup branded as "Food Network Nighttime". Generally, "In the Kitchen" is dedicated to instructional cooking programs, while "Nighttime" features food-related entertainment programs, such as cooking competitions, food-related travel shows, and reality shows. Promos identify "Food Network Nighttime" programming but not "In the Kitchen" daytime programming. Many of the channel's personalities routinely pull double-duty (or more) – hosting both daytime and nighttime programming – and the channel regularly offers specials which typically either follow its personalities on working vacations, or bring together a number of personalities for a themed cooking event. Food Network airs infomercials on Sundays from 4:00 to 9:30 a.m. ET, Monday through Thursdays from 5:00 to 9:30 a.m. ET, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 4:00 to 7:00 a.m. ET. The UK channel has a teleshopping window from 03.00 to 06.00 (UK time GMT/BST as applicable) daily.
Mario Batali and Bobby Flay joined the network in 1995. In 1996, Erica Gruen, the network's CEO, and Joe Langhan, an executive producer at the Food Network, created Emeril Live!, which became the channel's signature series. Although Batali has moved on to other endeavours, Flay still appears regularly on many programs, including Iron Chef America, the channel's well-received remake of the original Japanese series. Iron Chef America's host, Alton Brown, gained a cult following for his Good Eats, which mixed science, cooking and off-beat humor.
In 2002, Food Network made an appeal to the home cook by adding Paula's Home Cooking, hosted by Paula Deen. Home Cooking focused mostly on Southern cuisine and comfort food. The show took overly complicated recipes and classic dishes and broke them down for the home cook. The show did increasingly well, and Deen revamped the show in a series called Paula's Best Dishes. In this series, friends and family members would join her in the kitchen and put a twist on classics and introduce new recipes. In June 2013, Food Network announced that they were not renewing Deen's contract due to publicity about her racial remarks revealed in a lawsuit brought on by a former worker.
Currently, the channel's biggest cross-over star is Rachael Ray, who has parlayed her cable following (primarily through the series 30 Minute Meals and $40 a Day) into a syndicated talk show and merchandise lines of cookware and kitchen ingredients.
Beginning in 2005, an annual reality contest, The Next Food Network Star, brought viewers to New York City to compete for their own show on the channel. Previous winners include Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh (Party Line with The Hearty Boys), Guy Fieri (Guy's Big Bite, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy Off the Hook, Ultimate Recipe Showdown, Guy's Big Night, Guy's Family Feast, Guy's Grocery Games), Amy Finley (The Gourmet Next Door), Aaron McCargo, Jr. (Big Daddy's House), Melissa d'Arabian (Ten Dollar Dinners), and Aarti Sequeira (Aarti Party). For the 2010 season, production of The Next Food Network Star was relocated to Los Angeles. It has become the network's flagship show. For most of its 12-year run, season finales of the show have been followed by lead-out shows the network deems has great potential and will draw even more viewers. These consist of either premieres of new shows, season premieres of continuing shows, or episodes of continuing shows that are significant to the schedule. For instance, the twelfth-season finale of Star was followed by an episode of a potential blockbuster series, Cooks vs. Cons.
In December 2007, The New York Times business section published an article on the end of Emeril Lagasse's show Emeril Live, and quoted Brooke Johnson, the president, as saying that Lagasse "remains a valued member of the Food Network family". Derek Baine, senior analyst at the media research firm SNL Kagan, is reported to have commented, "It's not surprising that people move on... They pay almost nothing for the people as they are building their careers... That's been their strategy all along". The article also commented on the declining popularity of the Food Network whose daily ratings were reported had fallen "to an average of 544,000 people from 580,000 a year [earlier]". It noted, "More significant, its signature weekend block of instructional programs, known collectively as 'In the Kitchen,' has lost 15 percent of its audience in the last year, to 830,000 viewers on average. This had left the network owing refunds, known as 'make goods,' to advertisers." Erica Gruen, president and CEO of the Food Network from 1996–1998 who created Emeril Live during her tenure, was reported to have blamed the decline on increased competition, "There's all sorts of instructional cooking video on the Web". But it reported that, "Bob Tuschman, Food Network's senior vice president for programming and production, said the weekend ratings drop was 'nothing we haven't anticipated'. He said the network's ratings in that time period grew by double digits in each of the last four years, growth that could not be sustained." It also wrote, "About a year ago, the Food Network began aggressively trying to change that with new deals that were 'way more onerous' from the stars' point of view, said a person who has been affected by the changing strategy, by insisting on a stake in book deals and licensing ventures, and control over outside activities.
On January 1, 2010, HGTV and Food Network were removed from cable provider Cablevision, which operates systems serving areas surrounding New York City. Scripps removed HGTV and Food Network from Cablevision following the expiration of the company's carriage contract on December 31, 2009; Cablevision and Scripps had been in negotiations for several months to agree on a new contract, but no progress had been made. The discontinuance of Food Network from Cablevision led the channel to make arrangements with Tribune-owned CW affiliates WPIX in New York City and WTXX in Hartford, Connecticut to broadcast a special episode of Iron Chef America with First Lady Michelle Obama on January 10, 2010, after that episode enjoyed high ratings on its January 3 cable premiere. On January 21, 2010, Cablevision and Scripps reached an agreement that resulted in Food Network and HGTV being restored on Cablevision's systems that day.
A similar carriage dispute with AT&T U-verse resulted in Food Network, Cooking Channel, HGTV, DIY Network, and Great American Country being dropped by the provider on November 5, 2010; the dispute was resolved two days later, on November 7, 2010, after the two parties reached a new carriage agreement.
UK and international
In accordance with an agreement between Scripps and Chellomedia, Food Network programs started to air internationally in the fourth quarter of 2009 in the United Kingdom and then in other markets in early 2010.
Food Network UK initially launched on the Sky platform as a free-to-air channel, joined by a +1 hour timeshift, taking the channel slots vacated by the closure of Real Estate TV. (Following Scripps' acquisition of Travel Channel International, the four channel positions on Sky were reordered to move Food Network up the grid.) Food Network and +1 were subsequently also made available on the Freesat satellite platform.
On terrestrial service Freeview, initially a four-hour primetime evening bloc was acquired, sharing capacity with channels including Create and Craft; subsequently Food Network relocated to its own full-day service, with the four-hour berth used to bring Travel Channel to DTT. (Travel has since itself moved to all-day operation, with the evening hours now absorbed into Create & Craft.) Scripps subsequently signed a carriage deal with Virgin Media to bring Food Network and Travel Channel to the cable platform (in Travel's case this was a re-addition following its earlier removal from the cable platform.)
Food Network video game
Red Fly Studio developed a video game for the Wii console in partnership with Food Network called Cook or Be Cooked. The game, which was published by Namco Bandai Games and was released on November 3, 2009, simulates real cooking experiences. Players can also try out the recipes featured on the game. There is also a video game based on Iron Chef America entitled Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine.
Food Network around the world
Some countries have their own Food Network. Examples include: Food Network Canada, Food Network Asia, and Food Network Europe. In the second half of 2014, Food Network Brazil began broadcasting with programs fully dubbed in Portuguese and optional subtitles. On February 1, 2015, Food Network launched on Australian IPTV service Fetch TV. Food Network South America began broadcasting in March, 2015 with full Spanish dubbed programs.
A localised free-to-air Australian version was launched on 17 November 2015, owned by SBS which has a licensing and programming output arrangement with Scripps.
Television Food Network, G.P.
In 2011, Scripps requested to add its Cooking Channel, formerly Fine Living Network, to the partnership and Tribune agreed. With the Cooking Channel considered to be worth $350 million, Tribune would need to add an additional capital.