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

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an interesting article about the current state of the Food Network. 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, 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 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 (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. 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 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.

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

ALSW ALSW 9 years
I loved RR when she first came out, but I agree with others - she's overexposed now. I cringe when I see the Dunkin Donuts commercials. I rarely watch the FN because often, it's more convenient for me just to surf their website for a recipe I want. Why watch a 1/2 hour show when it takes 2 minutes to find the recipe? I watch Ace of Cakes and that's about it.
SugarCat SugarCat 9 years
Never liked RR from the beginning. And thank god the holidays are over so there's no more of that god awful Dunkin Donuts commercial. "get some coffee with my MOOOAM" - I hate her phrases, the way she speaks, ugh. LOL I love Ina, Paula, Nigella... kick some of those other shows to the curb, keep them and maybe bring back Bourdain? Who knows. It seems like what's happening to FN is what happened to Mtv/VH1 years ago. So sad.
Mrs_Groban Mrs_Groban 9 years
I LOVE Rachael Ray! She's great. My other favorites are Alton Brown, Nigella Lawson, Bobby Flay, and Paula Deen. I don't like Sandra Lee or Giada di Laurentiis, though I will watch their programs. There are others who I watch just because they are on and I don't love or hate them. I think one of the problems with the Food Network is that they show episodes over and over. In some cases that is a good thing (for example, if you catch the end of an awesome recipe you can see it again soon). But it isn't fun when you see an episode on the weekend and then there it is again on a weeknight. It is one thing to re-run episodes late at night or early in the morning, but don't do it on the weekend and then in the evening when people watch. I have the Food Network on a lot and I don't mind seeing shows I have seen before, but when I just saw the whole episode over the weekend I mostly change the channel. FN also seems to schedule shows I want to watch, like Nigella or the upcoming Jamie Oliver show, at odd hours. I'm getting read for Church Sunday mornings so I don't have time to watch Nigella. If they would put re-runs of her shows on at a later time I would be able to watch. I love the Food Network because they have, for the most part, interesting shows with recipes anyone can do and ingredients anyone can find & afford. I have learned so many things, mostly from Rachael Ray. It is a great channel. I am looking forward to the new Jamie Oliver show. His was the first show I ever saw on FN and I have been addicted ever since.
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
I really love Food Network, but I agree that there are too many competitions/reality shows. Dinner Impossible, Good Eats, Unwrapped, The Secret Life of..., and Paula Deen and Giada de Laurentis are my favorites, and basically all that I watch. There are just too many shows about traveling/road trips, especially Rachael Ray. Didn't she have $40 a day and another travel show? I don't like any of the food that RR makes and she just is too overexcited all the time. I agree that Food Network needs to go back to showing actual cooking techniques and such, the whole quick cooking(RR, Quick Fix Meals, etc.) thing is getting really dull.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
Wow. Okay. RR is overexposed for sure, but I agree with Tara. I don't hate her; she does seem like a fun, real girl, which is the reason I ever watched and liked her in the 1st place. But still I cracked up at the comment: Rachael Ray is a garbage bowl. I just laughed again when I typed it. Ha! PS I totally used to do that garbage bowl thing when we had a garbage can under the sink and it was troublesome to open the cabinet door every time or just leave the can out and trip over it.
Ultress Ultress 9 years
emlod10 emlod10 9 years
rachael ray is a burn out. shes on cracker boxes, dunkin donuts, food network, and her own kitchenware...shes obviously about ensuring she has business but the food network needs somebody that doesnt spread themselves as thin so they will create a good quality show. i love ina and giada. maybe another show with ina? why not show ina traveling as opposed to rachael who orders cheapo meals and doesnt tip.
mas mas 9 years
Even my six-year-old son who used to watch 30 minute meal has had his fill. Enough is enough. There are so many talented chefs out there who deserve to share their recipes with us. And there a lack of color on FN.
Schaianne Schaianne 9 years
I love watching FN ... but I have to agree that RR has been over-exposed. I used to love watching her ... but I watched her holiday cooking show last week and was about ready to slap her hands - which she was constantly waving around like a maniac! UGH!
SweetFirefly SweetFirefly 9 years
I like and watch the Food Network. I like RR. She's so cute and perky. I do not like Sandra Lee's show. No please.
Nitrobezene Nitrobezene 9 years
Rachael Ray is a garbage bowl.
taraevans94 taraevans94 9 years
I am so against anyone that says they "hate" Rachael Ray. She seems like a cool chick and an all around normal and nice person. She can cook food that you want to eat and that's do-able for a weeknight dinner. Yes, she's extremely energetic and giggles at her own jokes, but so what? Those are some of her quirks and we all have them. I think she's great. I also hope that Food Network lasts forever because I literally have it playing on my kitchen TV all day Saturdays and Sundays as I clean and cook my own meals. I just love (almost) every show on it and look forward to some new ones. One of my favorite shows is Iron Chef America - I just love to see what they come up with using the secret ingredient! Oh how I would love to be a judge on that show! - Tara
Powerpuffgirl Powerpuffgirl 9 years
I'm in agreement with all the posts that describe Food Network as catering more to a non-cooking audience than those of us that actually cook...and enjoy doing it! Like many of you, I watch the shows on PBS on the weekend more than I've been watching the Food Network. Rick Bayless, Todd English, Lidia Bastianich, Ming Tsai are all more interesting to watch than Robin Miller, Sandra Lee and Rachel Ray. The "make it quick and easy" shows have taken over and the showcasing of cooking artistry and skill is gone from the FN shows, with one exception. The only place I get to see innovative cooking on the Food Network is on Iron Chef. This is why we were all so eager to latch onto Top Chef! As for the new direction for the Food Network, I like Jaime Oliver, but I don't think he's enough to make me change my mind about the network. And, though I respect the niche Rachael Ray has successfully created, she's too overexposed and way overrated.
bransugar79 bransugar79 9 years
I used to watch a lot more of the food network but I have to agree that if you actually like to cook there's not much there anymore. I love Mario and Giada and Ina because I actually learn things when I'm watching them or at least see little twists on things I already know. I think the Rachael Ray thing is so out of hand. I don't hate her I just think she's over exposed and so are Emeril and Paula Deen. I think the network executives got caught up in the evryone wants to cook fad and forgot that the people who will watch even when it's no longer en vogue are those of us that used the channel to supplement our voracious appetite for food info gathered by reading watching public television programs and most importantly eating and exploring our taste buds ourselves
Gabriela14815884 Gabriela14815884 9 years
I still love the food network but like many have already stated the new shows are just not cutting. Has anyone seen Simply Delicioso??? My god what a train wreck and a disgrace to Latin people having this chic cook supposedly Latin cuisine...ugh. I still love Iron Chef (though the original version was much better IMO), Alton, Paula, Giada and RR. I think they just need to get back to the cooking and things would be better.
mamaseacat mamaseacat 9 years
I don't know. I guess if Jamie came back, I'd watch his show. I miss him! But as for the rest of the gang... I'm tired of Emeril and RR. I used to like Sandra Lee. I don't like the Latina lady. She doesn't represent Latina or Hispanic to me. I feel like her long blonde hair would be in my food if she cooked for me. I guess I'm just tired of the cooking shows. I like watching Top 5, Unwrapped, Ace of Cakes, and any of the informating food shows. But they're not shows I'd go out of my way to watch. More like if there's nothing left to watch, I'd tune in to the Food Network. Gwyneth Paltrow??? I wouldn't watch her on anything. She's annoying. Glad she's not coming to the Food Network. She's too skinny. Does she eat? Anything she'd cooks wouldn't be something I'd make or eat.
kittenheelsrule kittenheelsrule 9 years
While I hate to jump on the "Rachel Ray must die" bandwagon - I do agree that someone needs to stop her before she EVOO's again! Good grief. Must we be subjected to her (faux) folksy euphamisms at every turn? Ray Ray - a sandwich is not a "sammy". Ugh. Ina and Giada are the stars of FN. Their casual, elegant food is worth spending the time to watch their respective shows. They inspire and who couldn't use more of that - esp in the kitchen. I think FN can come back from it's ratings slump- but adding more shows featuring Ray Ray is not the way to do it. P.S. Mario and Gwyneth? That sounds like a recipe for disaster. ;-)
waterbaby waterbaby 9 years
I never have time to read the NYTimes every day, so I default to the most popular tab & luckily this was on there. When I read this yesterday what struck me the most is that Mario was quoted as saying the Food Network doesn't want someone who uses polysyllabic words from other languages. This indicates that their target audience is changing. I read last year that the way recipes are being written is changing, for example people don't understand the difference between folding in egg whites or mixing eggs. I think that's why Martha is making a comeback, because she has celebs on her show that have never cooked and can simply explain what is going on.
CiaoBella2 CiaoBella2 9 years
More variety is needed on FN. PBS has a wide variety of cooking shows, some are more travelogues. I am looking forward to watching Jamie Oliver.
emalove emalove 9 years
I LOVE the Food Network and I always enjoy watching it. I don't enjoy watching Rachael Ray though...some of her recipes are great, but I can't stand her voice. I find her so irritating to watch.
colormesticky colormesticky 9 years
I'm so over Rachel Ray. Ugh. Yummo, EVOO, action, how good does that look, lemony thyme, smoky bacon, I could spew her overused phrases ad nauseum, but I can't freaking STAND her. More cooking, less talking. And WTF is up with all the creepy, perky, and/or insanely boring shows? Crazy Aunt Sandy and her semi-homemade nightmares are all the crazy Food Network needs.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i used to be a die-hard fan of the network - but i'm tired of a lot of the shows that they have on. you can only watch them so many times - and if you're not interested at all in the content - you tune it out for hours ...and don't go back.
I like Rachael's travel shows, like $40 a day, even though it is torture to make my boyfriend watch.
verily verily 9 years
I gave up on Food Network when they gave up on giving us solid cooking shows in favor of food personalities, reality shows, and idiotic "How it's made" type shows.
vapidintuition vapidintuition 9 years
I honestly think that Food Network is going downhill, and fast.
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