Amazon is paying Discovery to give away one-year free subscriptions to Food Network Kitchen to all users of Fire TV and Fire Tablet devices in the United States. This past January, Amazon said Fire TV had over 40 million active users; that’s higher now, but the company declined to provide an updated figure. It hasn’t disclosed how many Fire Tablets are in active use.
Food Network Kitchen includes over 2,300 on-demand cooking classes hosted by celeb chefs like Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis, and Guy Fieri; select episodes of Food Network cooking shows including “30 Minute Meals,” “Barefoot Contessa” and “Brunch @ Bobby’s”; and over 80,000 recipes. The service is regularly priced at $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year.
“We obviously didn’t know something like this was coming with COVID,” said Peter Faricy, CEO of Discovery’s global direct-to-consumer business. “People are spending a lot more time at home — and they’re cooking and and streaming more at home. This is probably the most ideal product for the pandemic.”
Neither company is disclosing terms of Amazon’s expanded deal with Discovery, other than that the ecommerce giant is footing the bill for the 12-month free trials of Food Network Kitchen. “They are paying us,” Faricy said. “This makes [the partnership] much, much bigger all at once.”
Amazon was Discovery’s launch partner for the content-and-commerce service, which debuted in the U.S. in October 2019. The cable programmer has a three-year deal that makes Amazon’s Alexa the exclusive voice service for Food Network Kitchen, to provide hands-free navigation and step-by-step instructions for recipes.
“When Food Network Kitchen came to Fire TV and Alexa last year, we saw how much customers love cooking with, and learning from, their favorite chefs,” Marc Whitten, VP of Amazon entertainment devices and services, said in a statement. “Many of us are spending more time cooking at home during these challenging times and are in need of a little inspiration. That’s why we are excited to offer all of our new and existing Fire TV and Fire Tablet customers a free year of access to Food Network Kitchen.”
Discovery’s deal with Amazon has been led by Faricy — an Amazon alum who still resides in the Seattle area. Prior to joining Discovery in 2018, he was VP of Amazon Marketplace, where he oversaw the company’s third-party merchant business.
For Amazon, the one-year-free Food Network Kitchen is a perk for buyers of its devices, aimed at boosting sales and extending Alexa further into America’s kitchens. There’s also a commerce tie-in: Food Network Kitchen users can purchase recipe ingredients from Amazon Fresh (as well Peapod and Instacart) directly from the app. In the next few weeks, Discovery is launching a “meal planning” feature for the app that will let users select several dishes and get a shopping list — and purchase the groceries from Amazon. Of course, as Faricy pointed out, “They’re getting so much traffic from the world, I’m not sure they need us right now.”
Faricy wouldn’t say now many Food Network Kitchen subscribers Discovery has signed up, but he claimed the app has been downloaded more than 5 million times to date. Separately, the company is offering free one-year subscriptions for health care workers and first responders.
During during the virus pandemic, overall visitors and watchtime are up more than 50% and subscriptions have increased much more than 50%, according to Faricy: “We’ve had really great momentum.”
Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Discovery last month suspended production of Food Network Kitchen’s popular live cooking classes in its New York and L.A. studios. On May 2 and 3, live classes will be coming back to the app. The two-day series, being touted as the “We Cook Together Weekend!”, will feature all-new cooking classes — live from the personal kitchens of Valerie Bertinelli, Scott Conant, Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, Amanda Freitag, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy, Michael Symon and Jet Tila.
Amazon Fire TV and Fire Tablet customers can sign up for the one-year trial offer by downloading the Food Network Kitchen app on Fire TV or Fire Tablet devices and following on-screen directions.