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ESPN and The Food Network should launch new channel

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Even if you are not a sports fanatic, you have to give credit to ESPN for building one of the most successful media franchises around today in little over 30 years. In addition to their flagship ESPN cable television channel, they have about 15 other stations and affiliated networks, ESPN.com, local market ESPN radio stations, ESPN mobile, ESPN The Magazine, and perhaps the most innovative platform in their portfolio, ESPN3.com, which lets people who get their internet from any one of about two dozen service providers access live streaming games for free. Given the enormity of the ESPN franchise and sporting media in general (which is owned by Disney), there are probably a few things I’m missing, but you get the idea. For those who are sports enthusiasts, its not just the deluge of coverage that makes ESPN in particular such an appealing channel. Despite being entirely dedicated to sports, it manages to keep itself fun, hip, accessible, almost nerdy by not taking itself too seriously and actively ditching a lot of the ‘machismo’ that might come along with this sort of thing. That SportsCenter commercial with Star Wars characters captures in its entirety the brand that ESPN has built and why its so successful. Compare that with the few hours of The Food Network that I recently and somewhat accidentally watched. They still of course have shows like cooking with fat, Italian, George Bush (BAM!). But the format of these shows is a little bit outdated, something that The Food Network has clearly realized as evidenced by the line-up of shows promoted on their website. Unfortunately for us the viewer, it seems the network executives decided the best way to put a fresh new face on food was a super-sized dose of reality T.V. The show I forced myself to struggle through was Chef vs. City, which watches like an attempt to wed The Amazing Race with No Reservations, but falls short of both, especially Anthony Bourdain’s fantastic No Reservations. The best example of The Food Network’s “Dancing with the Stars”-like approach has to be their show What Would Brian Boitano Make, which has to be a conscious reference to South Park: The Movie. Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, despite being on ABC and not The Food Network, is another good example of this. It reminds me of that show where they make surprise renovations of peoples’ homes who’ve been through some sort of tragedy. Both feature traveling do-gooders with spiky hair, although Jamie’s revolution has been known to famously blow up in his face from time to time. Now, The Food Network and similar programs have (or could have) a fairly noble purpose: to better educate people about their food and make healthy eating a realistic goal for a wider audience than your typical Whole Paycheck shopper. From my experience watching this channel though, I didn’t learn anything about my food, where it came from, or how to prepare it in a way that would help me to easily eat healthier. In large part I think you can attribute this to the nature of the programming – you don’t pander to the lowest common denominator of society when you are trying to radically change the way that society uses media to engage with a certain topic, like ESPN has with sports. I’ll admit that athletics lends itself to this kind of presentation a little bit more easily than food does, but that doesn’t mean that some of the same principles couldn’t apply. Lets see a food network that is funny and does not take itself too seriously. Wouldn’t it be great to see Rachel Ray in the same kind of self deprecating commercials that SportsCenter puts LeBron James in (“Chosen one, huh?”)? Lets also see something that’s a bit more intelligent too. I honestly do not and will never care what Brian Boitano would make. As hilarious as it is to watch “Emeril, Live” and realize that he looks like a fat, Italian George Bush (if you don’t believe me do an image search for Emeril, its uncanny how much he looks like a young “Dub-ya”), it hardly inspires me to lift a finger to make anything remotely close to what this man is cooking up. A better understanding of how people consume media these days wouldn’t hurt either. ESPN does a great job of putting non-stop sports coverage at your finger tips. Above all make it fast paced, high energy and fun. What if there was a show called “WineCenter”, which each day broke down the best recipes cooked on the food network that day and had experts picks on which wines to pair with them, and combines that with web based content that gave you links to clips of all the dishes being prepared along with instructions for the recipes and a google maps link for where to buy the ingredients in your neighborhood. Now that would be a food channel to change the game in as many ways as ESPN has.
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Written by Andrew

May 17th, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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2 Responses to 'ESPN and The Food Network should launch new channel'

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  1. How about a survival series in which contestants are dropped in the middle of the fertile wilderness and have to learn to cultivate the right variety of crops to provide a tasty and vitamin-rich variety of foods?

    Or is that extremely lame?

    Preston

    17 May 10 at 23:36

  2. Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.

    oryginalne buty

    11 Jan 11 at 07:20

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