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Discovery to Launch Food Network Kitchen Subscription-Streaming Service, With Amazon’s Assistance

Will feature live cooking shows, instructional videos, Alexa integration

Discovery has whipped up its most ambitious U.S. subscription-streaming concoction to date — Food Network Kitchen, which the company promises will be as useful to home cooks as it is entertaining.

Set to launch in October, Food Network Kitchen will offer a lineup of 25 weekly live, interactive cooking shows — including some led by celeb chefs Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis and Guy Fieri — as well as over 800 on-demand instructional videos, 80,000 recipes, culinary-related original programming and select shows from Food Network’s library.

The service, to be priced starting at $6.99 per month, is built for utility: It will let subscribers order ingredients for specific recipes from online-grocery services (and eventually cooking supplies) and in 2020 will add a 24-hour culinary helpline for subscribers to get tips and tricks from live experts.

In addition, Discovery inked a three-year pact to integrate Food Network Kitchen with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, to provide hands-free navigation while subscribers are prepping their dishes. Alexa is the exclusive voice service for Food Network Kitchen under the deal.

“We think we can set a new bar in the direct-to-consumer world that goes beyond entertainment,” said Peter Faricy, CEO of Discovery’s Direct-to-Consumer business unit. “We’re going to stress the joy and fun — and also the practicalness — of this.”

Discovery engaged with Amazon to stitch Food Network Kitchen into the ecommerce giant’s full suite of consumer-electronics products including Alexa, Amazon Echo Show, Fire tablets, Fire TV and Fire TV Edition Smart TVs. The service also will be available for iOS and Android mobile devices at launch, coming to additional platforms and devices in 2020 including Roku and Apple TV.

Faricy is intimately familiar with Amazon: Prior to joining Discovery a year ago, he was VP of Amazon Marketplace, where he oversaw the company’s third-party merchant business. He has since hired other former Amazonians, including Avi Saxena as CTO of Discovery’s Direct-to-Consumer unit, and Tyler Whitworth, who is SVP and general manager of Food Network Kitchen.

“What I learned at Amazon is, you really have to build a product people love,” said Faricy.

The “crown jewel” of Food Network Kitchen, according to Faricy, will be its live programming. The cooking classes will be shot in the cabler’s test kitchen in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, streaming five live classes per day from a rotating lineup of 80 different chefs. The model, per Faricy, is similar to Peloton’s lineup of live exercise classes. All the classes also will be available on-demand after airing. During the live streams, viewers will be able to ask questions of the on-air talent (with queries moderated by an on-set producer).

Food Network Kitchen also will provide 3,000 step-by-step videos, including more than 600 instructional videos by Michelin-star chefs, James Beard award-winners, bestselling cookbook authors, and restaurateurs from cooking app Panna, which was recently acquired by Discovery. The library of 80,000 recipes can be filtered along different criteria, including by chef, level of difficulty, preparation time, cuisine, diet, allergies, and food trends.

According to Faricy, some 80 million people visited Food Network’s website for cooking advice during the 2018 Thanksgiving holiday.

“We have a lot of trust in the [Food Network] brand that goes far beyond watching TV,” Faricy said. “We think this is going to go far beyond the streaming media products that are in the market.”

Exclusive content on Food Network Kitchen will include “Restaurant Insights” from Food Network chefs and talent; “World Kitchen,” featuring chefs and cuisine from around the globe; and personalized content playlists. A selection of Food Network’s cooking shows, available ad-free, will include “30 Minute Meals,” “Barefoot Contessa,” “Brunch @ Bobby’s,” “Girl Meets Farm,” “Good Eats,” “Guy’s Ranch Kitchen” and “The Pioneer Woman.”

Meanwhile, Food Network Kitchen’s cupboard is set up for ecommerce. Subscribers will be able to order ingredients through the Food Network Kitchen app using Amazon Fresh in select cities as well as Peapod and Instacart. In 2020, Food Network Kitchen will roll out a new one-touch purchasing feature letting consumers buy equipment used by the Food Network Kitchen chefs, from pots and pans to utensils and appliances, from Amazon and other retailers. The 24-hour, 365-days-per-year live culinary “Kitchen On Call” support line for Food Network Kitchen is slated to debut next year as well.

“We’ve tried to focus on saving people money and time,” Faricy said. “We’ve built a product that goes beyond entertainment.”

Some of Food Network Kitchen’s content will be in front of the paywall: Consumers will have free access to a “limited selection” of videos and recipes. The full service will be priced at $6.99 per month (the same as Disney Plus, incidentally) or $59.99 per year. Discovery is kicking off Food Network Kitchen with a free 90-day trial period and a limited-time discounted rate of $47.99 per year.

Initially launching in the U.S., Discovery plans to roll out Food Network Kitchen to more countries in 2020 and eventually “everywhere in the world,” Faricy said.

Discovery will promote Food Network Kitchen across all of its U.S. networks and digital platforms. On-air promos will be integrated into shows on Food Network, as well as programs across TLC, HGTV, Discovery Channel and other networks.

On the Alexa front, Food Network Kitchen’s users will be able to ask Amazon’s voice assistant to browse the service’s recipes, live and on demand cooking classes, how-to videos, and step-by-step video recipes on Echo Show. They will also be able to navigate via voice commands; for example, by saying “Alexa, go to the next step,” or “Alexa, show me the ingredients.”

Food Network Kitchen represents Discovery’s fifth direct-to-consumer service. The company’s other subscription-streaming services are Eurosport Player and Dplay in Europe; MotorTrend; GolfTV, available in international markets under Discovery’s alliance with PGA Tour; and the forthcoming global Discovery streaming service that will include BBC programming.

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