Hey Food Network: You’ve Lost Your Mojo!

image via Food Network Humor

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After years of growth, I see you had a major drop in ratings.
I know you saw it coming: you had those itty-bitty, single-digit declines earlier last year. But the 10 percent drop in the fourth quarter? No sweeping that one under the rug. You’ve got some explaining to do to the network advertisers.

Can you say denial?
You blame shifting audience interests with tastes running to edgier reality shows. You point a finger at the overall drop in cable subscribers. You complain about the crowded field of cable food shows, with non-food channels like Bravo and TLC jumping on your gravy train of food shows.
Hey Mr. Network VP, did you ever think it could be the programming?

You clearly have an eye for talent. Once upon a time you gave us a Food Network lineup with Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, and the original Japanese Iron Chef. I tip my hat to you, sir, for those particular strokes genius. What a golden age it was.

Since then, you’ve given us the deep-fried, butter crumb-topped, sugar-sprinkled madness of Paula Deen. You have failed to muzzle the rooster-headed Guy Fieri as he spouts his cringe-inducing catch-phrases (I’m driving the bus to flavor town; the sauce is money). You run the contestants of The Next Food Network Star through challenges that seem better suited to a search for the next VH-1 spokesmodel. And perhaps most dangerous of all is your refinement of the Sandra Lee dump-and-stir school of celebrity cooking.

Yes, Mr. Network VP, I do understand what a difficult job you have.
Television is indeed a ruthless business. You need to garner the most possible eyes for advertisers with shows that appeal to the widest possible audience. At the same time you need to maintain some semblance of credibility with a core viewership of foodies. It’s a fine line you walk. You have my sympathies.

If I were in your shoes, this is what I would do.
I would dust myself off from the recent drubbing and take a look at the competition. There’s a killer lineup over on the Travel Channel with Man v. Food, Bizarre Foods, that cool, new forager on The Wild Within, and the monster hit No Reservations. That’s right, Anthony Bourdain; the same guy you let run through your fingers a few years back. And I would spend some time over on Bravo studying the Top Chef series, especially Top Chef Masters—now that’s what I call a cooking show.
Yup, that’s what I would do.

So, Mr. Food Network Executive, I hope you can find your way again—and that missing 10% of your audience.

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One Response to Hey Food Network: You’ve Lost Your Mojo!

  1. Monet says:

    Great post! I agree that so many other channels are doing much better with food programming. I can’t get enough of No Reservations! You should be hired as a consultant for the network…you would whip it into shape!

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