Food Network to launch in Asia

Scripps, Chello take Food Network brand global

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CANNES -- After an appetizer in Europe, Africa and the Middle East thanks to a new deal with Chello Zone, U.S. cable group Scripps Networks will feed small screens in Asia with the Food Network, Scripps Networks International president Greg Moyer confirmed Tuesday in an interview.

Originally slated for a first quarter release, Moyer said that the Food Network will launch on European and Middle Eastern affiliates on Jan. 15, then roll out to Africa.

"I do believe that the Food Network will be our leading brand on a global basis," Moyer said.

Scripps plans to make a major announcement regarding its specific plans for the Asian market within the month, but Moyer confirms that Asian fare is on the menu for the rapidly growing FN brand.

A local version of the Food Network will launch in the U.K. on BSkyB in November, and will roll out to Benelux and Eastern and Central European territories during the first quarter of 2010, followed by France, Spain, Italy and Germany. Scripps plans to launch local versions of FN in those territories. "I want to make sure we're ready to go in there. We won't be careless about this. We don't want to be the McDonald's Food Network," Moyer said.

Scripps is at the MIPCOM market talking to providers in Africa and the Middle East and hopes to close deals with broadcasters in those territories by market end. "Within six months, we'll be in 15 million homes," Moyer said of the global launch.

Some 30% of the Food Network's U.K. version will be acquired or commissioned content and the rest from global inventory. Famous food faces such as British Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson and American chefs Giada De Laurentiis and Rocco DiSpirito will be the main courses on the U.K. Food Network's programming menu.

The Food Network already airs in more than 99 million households in the U.S. and six million in Canada. Scripps already owns a food-oriented website in the U.K. that will be rebranded as a companion web property to grow a digital media presence with the brand.

Scripps is hoping to create a 360-degree brand not just limited to television and already is in talks with publishers about partnering up for print versions of the network's popular food franchises in addition to cooking utensils.

"I do think food's time has come," Moyer said of the global launch, adding: "Chefs are the new rock stars."