Monday, April 19, 2010

Food Network

I've found myself only blogging to complain lately, so I thought for once I would throw in a positive take. Often on my lunch breaks, I sit in our firm's lunchroom and read for my MBA classes while others watch TV. One of the popular lunch time channels is the Food Network. I also watch the Food Network at home as well.
That said, I think the Food Network is one of the best managed and well produced cable networks there is. If you know me, you know I think highly of ESPN as well, but lately, ESPN is more about content that programming. Most of their original shows (aside from PTI) I don't really like and I can get all the information I need much quicker via than Sportscenter. And I would much prefer reading a couple people's opinion online about something than listening to multiple hosts argue at a near shouting level. The sporting events themselves are very well produced and they do a great job there, but aside from that, I'm not interested most of the time. All that to say, I see the same programming mistakes on most networks. Almost all of my news and sports information now from online sources because I don't like the format it's presented on TV anymore.

What separates the Food Network from the rest of the pack for me are several things. First of all, I think they do a great job of hiring and keeping talent. All of their hosts are personable and do a good job in front of the camera at communicating with the audience. It could be too that because of the nature of their shows, they have to, but still, I think they do a better job than HGTV, DIY, etc, which have shows of a similar format. I think the FN does a good job of presenting the content and getting their message across without undue repetition. Sometimes I feel like DIY or HGTV have about 15 minutes of content and stretch it into 30 minutes and it's just a ton of repetition.

One of the other aspects I really like about FN is originality. Not all the shows are simply cooking shows, they've been able to successfully crossover to reality shows (like the Next Food Network Star), competitions (like Chopped [one of my favorites, by the way] or FN Challenge), travel shows, and have been able to include the home viewer/local chefs in creative ways (such as Ultimate Recipe Showdown and Throwdown) without jeopardizing content. If the NFL Draft or Friday Night football with viewers able to text in comments that scroll across the screen is any indication of how ESPN and several other networks try to get viewer participation or extensive use of forums and comments on the bottom of online content, I'm not interested. I can't stand that.

I also like that there is a large degree of variability in each time slot. Obviously, a lot of the prime time programming is the same (as it should be) but at lunch time or afternoon, I may get 2-3 different hosts or show types in a week and I may get 10-15 over the course of a month. This means that if I go to lunch every day at 1 pm, I don't always watch Sandra Lee or Paula Dean, I have no idea what will be on. I think that variability in programming is great during the day, when your audience is also variable as well.

To summarize, better talent, better show ideas that take their central theme (food) and use if across various proven entertainment platforms, better produced shows, and variability in programming. I never would have thought that I would think of the Food Network so highly, but it happened. They won me over. On a separate note too, I enjoy how complements the network, but doesn't try to be something that it's not and doesn't expand or water down the network itself. Good job Food Network, keep up the good work.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


This is a great concept. However, I think I'll wait until the Car-Mullet comes out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Retire Ronald McDonald?

Corporate Accountability International is hosting a retirement party for Ronald McDonald and has started a campaign to put pressure on McDonalds to retire the icon.

They were successful back in the 90s of getting Camel to retire Joe Camel and are employing similar strategies with Ronald now. Joe Camel, which I never 100% agreed with, got kids to smoke and now Ronald is convincing kids to be obese. They blame Ronald for the increase in childhood obesity. Really? It's Ronald's fault? It's too bad all those kids don't have parents around to keep them from eating McDonalds every day. I can understand lobbying for McDonalds to add some healthier choices on the menu (which they have over the last couple years), but forcing them to retire Ronald McDonald just because kids these days have irresponsible parents that aren't making sure their kids are eating properly is absurd. Besides, smoking and hamburgers are two completely different things. I just think this is absolutely ridiculous.

But while we're here, why Ronald and not the Hamburgler? First of all, the Hamburgler steals hamburgers! He should have been prosecuted years ago and has been running around stealing hamburgers for way too long now. Or what about Mayor McCheese? His head is a cheeseburger! When I see a clown, I don't think of a cheeseburger, but when I see a cheeseburger, I think of a cheeseburger. Call me crazy. Or Grimace? He's actually fat, as opposed to Ronald who apparantly doesn't eat enough of his own product to be obese. Are other chains safe? What about cereals? They all have cartoon mascots. Is the Nestle Quik rabbit next? Tony the Tiger? Wendy? Jack in the Box?