Food Network Goes Global

It is rather ironic that the day after CondeNast announced Gourmet‘s demise (see previous article, “Gourmet to Shutter“), Scripps Network Interactive announced plans that the Food Network would expand into Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

With joint venture partner Chello Zone (owned by Liberty Global), Scripps will be launching the Food Network on Sky on November 9, 2009, reports TV industry newsletter Broad Band TV News:

Arguably, it is UKTV’s Good Food channel that will be the most concerned by the launch. The former UKTV Food also boasts Britain’s most popular commercial food website. In continental Europe, BBC Lifestyle has replaced BBC Food

However, FN does have a significant web presence with an online store and new Fansite (see previous article, “I Love Food Network Fansite“).

While British celebrity chefs and food entertainers like Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, and Nigella Lawson continue to rock the States like so many Beatles or Stones, how are we thanking them? By sending over Rachael Ray and Paula Deen among other FN talent? Is that a fair exchange?

After the UK, Scripps will go after the rest of the EMEA, with a target of 15 million homes within the next six months, according to news reports. Will those numbers materialize?

The move to globalize the Food Network makes sense to anyone who has visited a far-off country like Kazakhstan or Lebanon and remarked on the number of locals dining at McDonald’s or Kentucky Fried Chicken rather then local fast food. But will they want to watch Americans cooking? Will they tune in to watch Michael Symon or Cat Cora create Greek-inspired dishes, or Giada De Laurentiis‘ versions of Italian cuisine (will they dub her into Italian?)

Super Chef will bet, however, that Down Home with the Neeleys will fit very nicely with the current French fad of American-style BBQ and it could make the Neeleys superstars (think Jerry Lewis)

Then again, Euros may stick with their own super chefs and spurn FN. In the 1980s, Kentucky Fried Chicken tried to open in Austria — land of gebratenes Huehnchen (fried chicken) — and died a mean, doggy death. In the wake of anti-Muslim backlash following 9/11, the Muslim World came up with Mecca Cola, just as Zam Zam Cola answered anti-American sentiment in the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Will the younger generations of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa stay loyal to their roots and resist the American invasion — or will they welcome it?

Stay tuned.

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