NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Even cable networks, the only media sector to post growth in advertising revenue during the first half of 2009, aren't immune to the recession.
Scripps Networks Interactive has announced it will rebrand its Fine Living Network as the Cooking Channel in third quarter 2010. The move will eliminate 20 positions in its Knoxville, Tenn., office, as the revamped channel will be based in New York's Chelsea Market, where network sibling Food Network also has offices. New positions will be created in New York, a Scripps spokeswoman said.
The 7-year-old Fine Living has struggled to find an audience among the increasingly fragmented lifestyle programming landscape in cable TV, having just become Nielsen-rated for the first time earlier this year and still not logging enough ad revenue to be tracked by TNS Media Intelligence. Conversely, the uber-brand Food Network continues to be a major growth business for Scripps, boosting ad revenue by 9.4% in 2008 to $525 million (banking more than Fox News Channel) and becoming the source of a highly successful magazine published by Hearst.
Cooking Channel also puts into flux a programming roster that includes exclusive re-broadcasting rights to "Martha Stewart Living," "The Biggest Loser" and "Emeril Live!" as well as original series such as "Wingman" and "Whatever Martha!" hosted by Ms. Stewart's daughter Alexis Stewart. The company will be talking with all of its talent in the coming weeks to discuss new contracts, said the spokeswoman, adding, "We're really seeing this as a new network where we'll be investing in new programming and new talent. That's not to say we won't leverage our library appropriately, but nobody wants to see a retread network."
"I think this is a really great idea," said chef and Food Network personality Bobby Flay. "I've been in the food world for many years and I can't ever recall the category being more popular than it is right now. Scripps Networks has been on a roll with Food Network, so who better to launch the new Cooking Channel?"
The news comes just days after Conde Nast announced it was shuttering its specialty food title Gourmet, a magazine that attracted more upscale advertisers than the mass-market, package-food and consumer-goods clients chased by Food Network and its namesake magazine.