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New President for FoodNetwork


Chad
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Scripps has named Brooke Johnson as the next president of Food Network. Johnson joined Food Network in May 2003 as Senior Vice President and General Manager. She succeeds Judy Girard, who earlier this year was assigned to the Shop At Home Network.

Scripps VP John Lansing said in the press release,

"Judy Girard and the team she assembled are responsible for transforming Food Network from a 'stand and stir' channel to one of the hottest networks in television. We are fortunate to have someone with Brooke Johnson's unique combination of experience and instincts to take up where Judy is leaving off at Food Network," Lansing said.

Okay, so Girard is responsible for lobotomizing Food Network? Glad she's gone. Please make sure the door hits her in the ass on the way out. Repeatedly.

The new president

. . . made an impact at Food Network in the first year of her arrival, capitalizing on the popular "In The Kitchen" block during fringe and weekend daytime while also making critical adjustments to the primetime schedule of the network. She also engineered the development of Food Network's new "Iron Chef America" stunt just launched.

Okay, seeing how much we're talking about Iron Chef America, maybe she's got something going for her. She's also headed up A&E and launched the History channel, so I'm willing to give Ms. Johnson the benefit of the doubt.

How about y'all. Do you think she'll be able to bring Food Network back up to snuff? Or is that even her mandate?

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Being that she is an insider who just got a promotion, my bet is she won't be willing to stir things up too much. No pun intended.

I really hope she opens up some sort of dialogue with their viewers to get some honest reaction to the "Dweezil and Lisa" syndrome that has been unloaded on us for the last several months. I think offering and really listening to input would go a long way in loyalty, if not increased ratings.

Of course, the whole thing is about the ratings. If the dumbing down of FTV is not interesting new viewers, then it should stop. If it is increasing ratings, then the more advanced audience has to be addressed, or they risk alienating them. OK, us. :biggrin:

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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I really hope she opens up some sort of dialogue with their viewers to get some honest reaction to the "Dweezil and Lisa" syndrome that has been unloaded on us for the last several months. I think offering and really listening to input would go a long way in loyalty, if not increased ratings.

This may be straying from the topic a smidge, and I apologize if it does. One thing that irks me about the Food Network is the incredibly squandered opportunity that is their website. Just now I looked it up to see who one of the judges was on an Iron Chef America episode. There was one little paragraph and a few perfunctory links. Clearly this is a template website that is mostly automated with not near enough thought.

This bums me out because this is the business I used to be in. A stronger website can maintain your viewers' excitement level during the between times when the show is on. It can virally market your programming. And here's the exciting part, it can add value to your ad deals with your off-line advertisers.

Oh, and as this is an online message board, it is worth noting that their message boards are some of the worst I've seen connected to a "real" company. The UI is a joke, the threading is terrible and it's about as intuitive as the wiring diagram to an English motorcycle.

That said (finally getting to the point after some griping) there is no interaction with the Food Network and the community. There's not a suggestion box and if the food network employees check the boards at all, there is no indication of it.

I know keeping abreast of the message boards is a daunting task. I used to work for the largest online message board site in the whole wide world. The payoffs are worth it, though. When not even the people on the Dweezil and Lisa board like the show, it tells you something.

Let us hope that Ms Johnson upgrades the value of the FN website from "none" to "some".

(And hats off to Tony Bourdain for visiting and occasionally posting on his show's board.)

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I saw Sara Moulton speak (along with John T Edge) in New Orleans last month during the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. She was funny, outspoken, engaging, and opinionated.

Her take on the direction of the Food Network (which she clearly has mixed feelings about) was that the daytime in the near future would be the only time that anything like instructional cooking shows would be on (with the exception of maybe Alton Brown and clearly their big star-E-which seems to be true) would be daytime. Primetime was about to be given over to "infomercial/best of" type programming and big production numbers like Iron Chef. She seemed to think that this is what the big shots thought would draw the numbers and that is what they would do, as they are clearly there to sell advertising (as are most networks aside from PBS and the like).

Perhaps a change in leadership means that this may not work out the way that she thought, but after reading the press releases about the new CEO it is hard to believe that the network will not go even farther in the direction she indicated in New Orleans.

It would be nice to see some shows with some interesting educational content from a food standpoint, but I don't think that is going to happen anytime soon.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Her take on the direction of the Food Network (which she clearly has mixed feelings about) was that the daytime in the near future would be the only time that anything like instructional cooking shows would be on (with the exception of maybe Alton Brown and clearly their big star-E-which seems to be true) would be daytime. Primetime was about to be given over to "infomercial/best of" type programming and big production numbers like Iron Chef. She seemed to think that this is what the big shots thought would draw the numbers and that is what they would do, as they are clearly there to sell advertising (as are most networks aside from PBS and the like).

Yup, all stations (and all newspapers and magazines) exist to sell advertising. We feel that they are delivering us a product -- news/entertainment/etc. Not true. We are the product they deliver to advertisers.

With that said, advertisers are looking for a well-heeled demographic, especially one they can slice and dice into easily definable categories. Women 18-25 is a pretty good demo, but Women 18-25 who spend more than $1,000 a year on cookware is an even better one.

What I'm hoping Brook Johnson brings to the mix -- via her experience with A&E and the History Channel -- is a recognition that food programming is a niche market. If FoodNetwork tries to overly broaden the programming to draw larger audiences, they run the risk of alienating the hard core foodies. Us, in other words. She just might have figured out that the smaller, hard core audiences is more likely to shell out $4,500 for a Viking range than the Dweezil & Lisa crowd. We're smaller in number but vastly preferable in purchasing habits, at least from an advertisers perspective. If they can figure out how to quantify that -- and can sell it to advertisers -- we'll have a lot better network on our hands.

Just my theory.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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as long as primetime doesn't include emeril live, i'm okay with it.

Emeril Live has been on at 8 eastern for several years now. Also repeats at midnight eastern, so the West coast gets it at 8pm as well.

For a while there, it was also on at 11pm eastern. Emrul gets 2-3 hours per day - minimum - on that network.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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I'm cynical/skeptical, and think the spiral will continue. The Food Network is not for the food geeks who are registered on this site. It's entertainment for the masses. When it first started out years ago, it was more "geeky," in that there were actually shows on how to cook.

But people want to be entertained. And few shows on any network can do a good job of entertaining those who only want that and educating those who only want that -- all in the same show. The Food Network isn't competing against cooking shows on PBS; it's competing against MTV, VH1, Queer Eye, Tradig Spaces, Designer's Challenge, The Apprentice, etc.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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I indirectly worked for/with Brooke Johnson in my last incarnation as an associate producer for an independent production house who did programming for A&E and History. Johnson is a smart and, from what I gather, a well-connected woman. But what Chad says is right, advertisers rule in television. Networks can't afford to produce programs that won't sell to advertisers and are forced to walk a thin line between what gets the network eyeballs and what advertisers think will get enough eyeballs to move their product.

It saddens me (and somewhat contributed to me changing my career trajectory) but reality type programming and Top Five kinds of show sell to both advertisers and Nielsen families. It isn't really aimed at people that are passionate about a subject. The History Channel fought hard to move away from its "The Black and White, World War II Channel" image to bring in that target market of 18 to 35 year old males who like to watch things catch fire. Scripps/The Food Network is going after that market, too. That makes me think that the only way you are going to get advertisers to believe that 18-35 year old males would watch serious cooking in prime time is if it's being done by attractive women in the nude, giving The Naked Chef a whole new audience.

Victoria Raschke, aka ms. victoria

Eat Your Heart Out: food memories, recipes, rants and reviews

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as long as primetime doesn't include emeril live, i'm okay with it.

Emeril Live has been on at 8 eastern for several years now. Also repeats at midnight eastern, so the West coast gets it at 8pm as well.

For a while there, it was also on at 11pm eastern. Emrul gets 2-3 hours per day - minimum - on that network.

I have come to believe that FN will give Emeril pretty much whatever he wants, and, even more importantly, whatever amount of time he wants.

I feel that they credit him with a lot of the success of the network because he has "delivered" much of their initial audience .. he is their "poster child", as it were. And, while many of us who are truly into food on all levels, have grown weary of his banter and show biz style, their general viewing audience may love the guy. They rate their own shows constantly, I am sure ...

Just an opinion .... :rolleyes:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Maybe I wasn't clear-

Sara said, in the course of her chat, that Emeril will continue to be the centerpiece of Food Network (they are paying him a ton, on top of his being very bankable). He is the king of Food TV, like it or not, and he sells ads. That is what it is all about. It ain't PBS.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Sara said, in the course of her chat, that Emeril will continue to be the centerpiece of Food Network (they are paying him a ton, on top of his being very bankable). He is the king of Food TV, like it or not, and he sells ads. That is what it is all about. It ain't PBS.

Thank you for the validation of my beliefs here (see above) ... he is their Knight in Shining Armor (or gahlick) and PBS, while I enjoy it tremendously, appears here locally with food shows only on Saturday afternoons .... understandably so .... as they say "We rely upon viewers like you."

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Hmmm.

How do I phrase this without being insulting?

Can't do it.

We are not F.N.'s target audience. Ms Johnson doesn't give one hoot about e-gullet, or any other website.

It's about the ratings. And selling ad space. And that's all. Not content, nothing else matters but how much money they make. And there is nothing wrong with that, it's the American way.

But you are fooling yourself if you think you know how to "fix" food TV.

Her job is to deliver the 18-42 demographic.

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Maybe Food Network's recent success is the devil in disguise. What I can imagine happening now is like what they do to you in college; everyone comes from different educational backgrounds, so they throw you all into English 101 to make sure you're all on the same page. After that, you can go and take any English Lit class you want with this basic understanding.

FTV might be in this stage, i.e., drawing in a bigger audience, and "educating" them about food. At least exposing these food newbies (newfies?) to some base food/techniques/cuisines/ingredients. This will get people hooked, and maybe, hopefully soon they'll start more instructional/sophisticated programming after they build their audience.

I agree with Brad that a few years ago FTV was more "geeky," it had cooking shows on almost all the time. I still miss Galloping Gourmet and East Meets West, among others. This was B.E.E. (Before Emeril Exploded), and now I don't watch it as much as I used to. I wish I could stay home during the day to watch the good stuff, but we've gotta pay the mortgage. I wish there was more respect for primetime gulleteers in FTV programming. There's only so much "Best Of" and "Top Five" I can take...

I hope the Brooke Johnson has a better vision and gives the audience more credit.

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Hmmm.

How do I phrase this without being insulting?

Can't do it.

We are not F.N.'s target audience. Ms Johnson doesn't give one hoot about e-gullet, or any other website.

It's about the ratings. And selling ad space. And that's all. Not content, nothing else matters but how much money they make. And there is nothing wrong with that, it's the American way.

But you are fooling yourself if you think you know how to "fix" food TV.

Her job is to deliver the 18-42 demographic.

You're right. A CEO's job is to add to the bottom line, and FoodTV is clearly not marketing to serious cooks. No one does any longer.

It's clearly time for the E-Gullet honchos to put together a business plan and pitch it to a network. Bravo would probably do it :cool:

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Cable television has two business models. The first is the advertising model. Most of these channels come with the basic package and you don't have to pay any extra for them. Food Network is in this category. The other model is where the cable network pays the channel on a "so many cents per subscriber per month" basis. These channels usually are premium in nature. HBO, come to mind. There are hybrids where the cable network pays on a per subscriber basis and there is advertising and the channel is part of the premium package. ESPN is in this category. The hybrids are not so dependant on advertising. Perhaps Food Network needs some competition from a rival channel that would be part of a premium package and had more focused advertising.

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Get a grip, people.

It's just food, and there is never going to be channel dedicated to people who are serious about it.

I think everyone is serious about food. Everyone has to eat.

Perhaps we, the more food oriented, need something of a cable version of Gastronomica ... dedicated, die hard food people might watch ... but, then again, for how long?

Oh, sorry, for that there is PBS .... :rolleyes:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Boy, I'd love to be the the room for that pitch meeting.

"hey, we've got this idea. there's this hard core group of foodies out there, and we think there's enough of them, and they are the right demographic group, and, well, we think we can make a network go based on what they want to see."

OK, actually I'd love to be in the meeting when the laughter stops, and they throw them out on their ass.

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I think of Food Network kind of like Mtv. Food Network started out with wonderful programing (and it still has a few great/informative shows) and has slowly changed into "Top 5" and "Unwrapped" type shows, just as Mtv once showed music videos and now you are lucky to see one if you stay up late or watch TRL. When I first got cable I was so excited to watch Food Network and now I find that I watch more of the Fine Living Network for informative programs.

Shannon

my new blog: http://uninvitedleftovers.blogspot.com

"...but I'm good at being uncomfortable, so I can't stop changing all the time...be kind to me, or treat me mean...I'll make the most of it I'm an extraordinary machine."

-Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine

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OK, actually I'd love to be in the meeting when the laughter stops, and they throw them out on their ass.

I know what you're saying but there's no harm in a creative goal that aims high and still pleases low. It happens all the time. Well, sometimes. Imagine a network that pleases the hardcore sabe todos and still entertains the masses. It's hardly impossible.

For me, if you can't at least come close to this, move over and give me a chance! I'm very entertaining!!!!

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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