Why Food Network Is Developing Its First Scripted Discovery+ Series?
Its already mid-October and Halloween real estate in big box stores is already crowded, aisles preparing for an onslaught of red and green. The holiday season is just around the corner. While cable TV has a lot more to offer retails bottom line, cable television may be ranked in snatching second place.
That stretch between Nov. 1 and years end is crucial for much of linear television, but it may be an exceptional boon for Discovery s suite of lifestyles networks and one of its biggest rivals that time of year, which is owned by a certain card company. Discoverys lifestyles team, which is headed by HGTV and Food Network, is all-in on holiday programming. This year, on Food alone, therell be 98 hours of new originals in addition to a large, largely evergreen library of holiday fare. However, the biggest swing is taking place elsewhere. Candy Coated Christmas, Food Networks feature film, is now available on Discovery+.
It makes sense, says Kathleen Finch, Discovery, Inc.s chief lifestyle brands officer, recognizing that moving into scripted in 2021 isnt always the case. We have the largest female audience in all of cable. 30 percent of the women who watch cable at night on our networks are watching one of our lifestyle networks. We have those women. We can see where they go when they arent watching us, and we know they enjoy holiday movies.
Of course, rival Hallmark Channel has been awash in holiday movies. Its Countdown to Christmas features 40-plus new titles that can stomp primetime cable competition during the month. Its easy to see why Food is attempting to move beyond its reimagined Christmas cookies, cake bake-offs, and gingerbread showdowns. Execs have been considering a scripted foray for ages. But cable, especially in these days of cord cutting, isn't in a position to confuse its audience, which is why the Nov. 19 launch will be broadcast across the portfolio, but not elsewhere.
Since January, streamer Discovery+ has been a large second-run hub for many of Discovery's networks, as well as originals. Theres a whole slate of supplementary series around TLCd 90 Day Fianc, spinoffs of the HGTV series Home Town, and even sexism-themed version of Food competition Chopped.
A lot of whats been working really, really well on Discovery+ are new iterations of talent and formats that people already love on linear, says Finch. Were giving those super fans more of what they love, says ONeill.
Candy Coated Christmas aims to accomplish exactly that. Outside of the projects culinary title and themes, it features Ree Drummond, a Food talent. The star of The Pioneer Woman, who has 3.8 million Instagram followers and an audience loyal enough to validate her booming retail business, is making her acting debut in a supporting role as shopper at eve of the films release, and Drummond, whose role is also the host of annual Food competition Christmas Cookie Challenge, has even documented her stage debut at behind-the-scenes lunching two weeks before the movie and discussing recipes she donated to the production. Drummond stated in a statement, If I get to be in just one film in my life, I want it to end up being merely spooky.)
Shes tweeting to all of her fans and talking about it in her magazine, shell be able to engage her followers around the film, says Finch. Its a really interesting experiment and hed like to see if we can satisfy that itch for our female viewers, explains Taylor.
One could easily argue that a food-centric holiday film could become accustomed to Food in the future. If it gets anywhere near the audience of a Hallmark movie, it may but Finch isnt entirely convinced that any amount of success would induce recurrence. Would we put Candy Coated Christmas on Food Network? Probably not. Thats why itd be great to have a second platform to train.