The streaming wars have another competitor in Food Network Kitchen, an upcoming streaming service that will feature a variety of live cooking classes with popular chefs.
Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Molly Yeh, and Alton Brown are among the cooking stars that will host live-streamed culinary courses on the $6.99 per month streaming service, which is set to launch sometime in October. Food Network Kitchen will offer a lineup of more than 25 weekly live, interactive cooking shows and will also feature over 800 on-demand instructional videos. A lengthy 90-day free trial period will be available when the service launches, and a “limited selection” of videos and recipes will also be released for free.
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There’s no shortage of shows starring celebrity chefs on the market, and the internet absolutely is not lacking for recipes and other culinary tutorials. Food Network Kitchen is hedging its bets on interactivity, as subscribers will be able to text cooking questions to the service’s stars during their live cooking shows. If you’ve ever wanted to grill Guy Fieri on his culinary decisions, here’s your chance.
Outside its celebrity hosts, the initial Food Network Kitchen announcement also played up its integration with Amazon products and tech. Discovery Inc., the parent company of Food Network, partnered with Amazon to integrate the streaming service into Alexa, Amazon’s popular digital assistant, allowing subscribers to navigate Food Network Kitchen via voice commands, which should prove plenty useful, since subscribers will presumably have their hands full cooking while watching the service’s live shows.
Food Network Kitchen will be available on a suite of Amazon products, including Alexa, Amazon Echo Show, Fire tablets, and Fire TV. The service will also be available on iOS and Apple.
That Food Network Kitchen’s non-mobile launch availability is more or less limited to Amazon products is intentional: Food Network Kitchen might be owned by Discovery, but the initial details about the service can’t help but make it feel more like an extension to Amazon’s ever-growing digital empire.
For $6.99 per month, subscribers get the privilege of navigating a streaming service on their Amazon Alexa product, and can also order ingredients through Food Network Kitchen via Amazon Fresh. And next year, the streaming service will allow consumers to buy the equipment used by Food Network Kitchen chefs through, yup, the Amazon store. (Ingredients will reportedly be available for purchase via Peapod and Instacart, while “other retailers” will also sell cooking equipment on the streaming service, but Amazon has a lengthy history of muscling out competitors to promote its own products).
The Amazon-Discovery agreement is part of a three-year pact, though financial specifics were not disclosed.
Platform availability could also be an issue. Pretty much everyone has a phone that runs on iOS or Android, but Amazon’s tech products aren’t quite as omniscient. If a Food Network Kitchen subscriber doesn’t have one of the aforementioned Amazon products, they will apparently be forced to watch the service’s programming on their mobile devices. Though support for Roku and Apple TV is expected to come sometime next year, the limited range of products the streaming service will run on could be a challenge.
That said, the service’s launch looks to be quite generous. The aforementioned 90-day free trial will give viewers plenty of time to determine if Food Network Discovery will be worth subscribing to, and the platform will also sell a limited-time annual subscription for a discounted $47.99.
Of course, the Food Network brand is also hugely popular, and its sheer brand awareness could make it an easy selling point for many cooking enthusiasts. Though the celebrity-led cooking shows are a major draw, Food Network Kitchen’s ability to allow subscribers to buy ingredients and equipment in the app — Discovery will get a cut of each purchase, which is great for further monetizing the platform — could help it market itself as subscription service for all sorts of cooks, instead of being just another streaming service. The service will also introduce a 24/7 hotline for cooking questions sometime next year.
If nothing else, Food Network Kitchen is the next logical step for Discovery to pivot one of its most popular brands to the increasingly large digital audiences that might not otherwise have access to Food Network.
But the Amazon elements and generous trial period aside, questions remain about the service’s value proposition. Given its content, Food Network Kitchen is not going to be in direct competition with streaming giants such as Netflix or Amazon’s own Prime Video streaming service. Regardless, Food Network Kitchen is yet another new contender in an ever-more crowded market of streaming television. Apple TV+ and Disney+ are expected to draw in huge swaths of paying customers when they launch in November, and recent announcements regarding HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock, which will both launch in the first half of 2020, suggest that the streaming war will only get more cutthroat.
Even if enough people are interested in the concept, the actual Food Network Kitchen programming will need to be of high quality and quantity to justify the subscription fee. The platform’s $6.99 per month subscription is cheaper than the payment plans for most existing streaming services, but almost all of those competitors also already have strong content libraries and the potential to appeal to a significantly wider audience. Discovery will need to consistently release interesting content beyond its initial launch slate, or risk losing viewers after their 90-day trial period ends.
There’s cause for skepticism, but Discovery is no stranger to direct-to-consumer services: The company runs four other SVOD platforms, including MotorTrend, the European-focused Eurosport Player and Dplay, and GolfTV, which is available in many major international markets.