Tuesday, October 14
While committing to seven issues might seem slim, the odds are actually in the companies' (both Hearst's and Food Net's) favor; food magazines are some of the only titles actually improving their sales right now. When the economy slows, people tend to eat in more and need tips on what to cook.
It's not a guaranteed success, though. Hearst Magazines is dealing with the tough realities of publishing (the company had to fold CosmoGirl last week) and unlike Food Network the cable station where it stands alone as the only 24-7 food channel, Food Network Magazine will enter the market with several high-profile direct competitors--two titles being helmed by Food Network stars.
And while the network has already proved it's "way more than cooking," the magazine has a tougher road ahead. It needs to prove it's way more than the normal food mag.
Here's what I think:
The premiere issue utilizes the network's star power to its advantage. ("Cook Like A Star!" the cover calls out). Some of the features include a behind-the-scenes look at Iron Chef America, a profile of Tyler Florence's new kitchen in California, Q&A articles with Ellie Krieger and Ted Allen, "Book Reports" on all of the Food Net stars' cookbooks coming out, and recipe features showcasing Ina Garten and Paula Deen.
It covers a LOT of stars--so many that I fear the subsequent issues will have less to utilize. And while it's definitely possible to keep new and fresh content coming from a relatively unchanging cast of characters (I feel like I've done that pretty well these past few years), it's not easy. I'm eager to see if the next issue will feature as much editorial devoted to the stars or if it was the intent to supersaturate the reader with content like this just to lure them in. We shall see.
As some other reviewers have noted, the recipe index that lists both the name of the dish and a thumbnail photo, divided by categories like appetizers and snacks, soups and stews, meat and poultry, sides, etc., is a great feature. Some food mags seem overwhelming in their number of recipes, but the guide really helps you zero in on what you're hungry for. The food pages themselves are further categorized by weeknight vs. weekend cooking--another smart choice.
I'm not a food magazine expert, but after reading through it a few times I feel like Food Network Magazine doesn't give us anything new--nothing we haven't seen before. And even though it has the added advantage of being directly connected to a stream of profitable content (i.e.- the stars), it really needs to prove that its content is valid on its own and not just because Tyler Florence's or Paula Deen's name is attached. I need to feel like I'm truly getting an added benefit from buying this magazine as opposed to just tuning in (for "free") to Food Network.
But if Paula and Rachael can be successful in the food magazine biz, a magazine dedicated to the whole network should have a pretty good shot. So will you be subscribing?