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Conception and Development

The Food Network (legally the Television Food Network, GP) was launched on Thanksgiving weekend 1993 in New York, NY as a channel that specialized in programs about cooking, hospitality, food, restaurants, and general kitchen culture. Its headquarters are stationed in New York City and offices are located in various cities scattered across the country, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Knoxville ( International audiences can view the Food Network as well screening in countries including Canada, Australia, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Monaco, Andorra, Africa, France, and the French-speaking territories in the Caribbean and Polynesia (

In 1997, the E.W. Scripps Company purchased a majority share of the channel from A.H. Belo Corp., and has since bought out every minority shareholder except for Tribune Co., which maintains a 31% share of the estimated $1 billion channel.[1][2]  Scripps Networks Interactive, a an offshoot of E.W. Scripps Co., runs the Food Network inside a Lifestyle Media portfolio of channels, which includes HGTV, DIY Network, Cooking Channel, and Travel Channel. Further partnerships include purchasing featured kitchen utensils etc. on websites affiliated with the Scripps ownership, such as BizRate and Shopzilla.[3]

The Food Network currently broadcasts to 99 million television household nationwide.  Globally, the Food Network has expanded well beyond this number, as they have begun to distribute to both the United Kingdom and Asia within the past year.[4]

Economic Evolution Under Providence and Scripps

Early on, the subject matter now covered under the cable umbrella of Scripps Networks Interactive was aired on PBS.  This included cooking shows like The French Chef with Julia Child and The Frugal Gourmet, as well as home, gardening and do-it-yourself programs like The New Yankee Workshop and This Old House.  The popularity of these shows caught the attention of the Providence Journal Company, which pitched the initial idea for a cable food channel.  Interest was immediate, as producers noted that such shows were inexpensive to produce and ripe for product placement, as 45 of the 100 top U.S. advertisers at the time were food-related.[5]

Providence effectively used synergy within their own corporate network to boost the Food Network in its early days.  They gathered investors from among a handful of its own media holdings (including the then-dubbed Scripps-Howard Inc.) that were endowed enough to wait several years on initial investment return, and then used its own cable system Colony Communication to distribute.  As an early strategy, Colony leveraged the Food Network into American householods by offering the channel for free to any cable system that would carry it to 80% of its subscribers.[6]  Scripps used a similar tactic of synergy after it bought the Food Network in 1997, using its own ten TV broadcast stations to reach 10% of the national market, and then bartering offerings of the newly purchased HGTV for Food Network slots on another 54 stations.[7]  Since then, 90% of the Food Network's programming has been done under the Scripps corporate umbrella, while Scripps' has maintained diverse holdings in retail markets, including BizRate, Shopzilla, and various other "lifestyle" channels and websites, which all advertise for each other.  Thus this example of corporate synergy has been rewarded with ever-growing profits since the early 2000's.[8]

With early success of "Emeril," the Food Network began to focus its target audience away from exclusively women and more toward young people and males.  Shows like Kitchen Confidential appeared to appear to an edgier, more youthful audience with more "personality-driven" rather than "cuisine-driven" shows.

Present Status

while its website is hit over seven million times per month (
In these homes, the Food Network is programmed in two segments: daytime coverage entitled “Food in the Kitchen”, and nighttime coverage known cleverly as “Food Network Nighttime”. Daytime shows usually focus on instructional cooking programs, while nighttime features the entertainment, competitive, reality shows. Both areas of programming fill the informative lifestyle arena, and the exciting entertainment sphere. In this way, the Food Network ensures its longevity in its audience’s interest by providing both the practical and the fantastical aspects of good television.

The Food Network and connected HGTV have evolved considerably over the last decade to maintain consistently high Nielsen ratings in cable, while Food Network in particular has grown considerably in viewer base and popularity over the past five years.  However, pricing is still being negotiated for the worth of these growing channels, and controversy has arisen as a result, particularly after New York's Cablevision dropped the Food Network in a dipute last year over the channel's current price of 25 cents per subscriber, which Scripps officials find to be an undervalued price.[9]

The Food Network has expanded to provide online and print accompaniments through and Food Network Magazine.  The Food Network brand as defined by SNI hopes to “connect power and joy to food… to [be a leader] in teaching, inspiring, and empowering through its talent and expertise.” “The network is committed to exploring new and different ways to approach food - through pop culture, competition, adventure, and travel – while also expanding its repertoire of technique-based information.”[10]   It has also developed a videogame for Wii,[11]

  1. Monk, Dan. Business Courier of Cincinnati. "Tribune's Food Network stake has Scripps' belly growling" April 4, 2008.
  2. Owl Staff. Owl Beta. "A History of the Food Network" December 7, 2009.
  3. Food Network "About" Page.
  4. Schroeder, Eric. Food Business News. "Food Network to launch in international markets" November 4, 2009. (Registration required to view entire article.)
  5. Ketchum, Cheri. "Tunnel Vision and Food." Ed. Sarah Banet-Weiser, Cynthia Chris, and Anthony Freitas. Cable Visions: Television beyond Broadcasting. New York, NY: New York UP, 2007. 162+. Print.
  6. Stern, Christopher. Broadcasting & Cable 123 no. 23. "Television Food Network Develops Strategy for Wider Carriage" June 7, 1993. 50. Print.
  7. Ketchum, Ibid.
  8. Ketchum, Ibid.
  9. Scripp's Network. "Food Network, HGTV Enlist Viewers' Help To Keep Popular Lifestyle Networks on Cablevision" January 1, 2010.
  10. Scripps Network. Our Brands - Food Network. "Background and Distinctions"
  11. Nelson, Randy. Joystiq. "Food Network: Cook or Be Cooked" April 30, 2009.