POPSUGAR Celebrity

Are a New Rachael and the Return of Jamie Enough to Help Food Network?

Dec 18 2007 - 11:18am

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an interesting article about the current state of the Food Network [1]. Not only has it canceled Emeril Live — Emeril himself is not leaving the network and enough new episodes have been filmed to fill 2008 — but ratings have slumped over the last year. According to the article [2], the network's ratings have slipped to a daytime average of 544,000 people from 580,000 a year ago. Likewise, its weekend shows have lost 15 percent of their audience, causing Food Network [3] to pay back several advertisers.

Although they're losing out on new Emeril episodes, as well as the upcoming Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow show [4] (strange note — the article states that Food Network passed on it as it wasn't "the right fit," however Batali says he never offered them the show), the network still has media-maven Rachael Ray [5]. There will be 60 new episodes of 30-Minute Meals, as well as a new travel show called Rachael's Vacation. They are also planning new shows from British chefs Jamie Oliver [6] and Danny Boome and Memphis restaurateurs Gina and Pat Neely. However is this going to be enough? Currently Food Network doesn't even hold the top-rated food show on cable. That honor goes to Bravo's Top Chef [7].

So you tell me, is it the end of an era at Food Network, or is it capable of pulling off a comeback?

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