Why food is big biz on TV

With changing consumer tastes and exposure to global cuisines, channels are looking at food-based programming as a strong bet to lure viewers

e4m by Synjini Nandi
Published: Jul 20, 2012 10:17 PM  | 4 min read
Why food is big biz on TV

There is a huge influx of cookery shows on television today comprising both, national and international content. Channels such as Star Plus and Star World have ‘Master Chef India’ and ‘Master Chef Australia’ respectively.


Fox Traveller launched two new shows on the food genre namely, ‘French Food Safari’ and David Rocco's ‘Dolce Vita Season 4’ early March this year in addition to its already existing shows such as ‘Delinquent Gourmet’, ‘Eat Street’, etc.


AXN has ‘Top Chef’ as a part of its food based programming.

TLC also introduced a dedicated time-band for food programming, ‘Chew’ early this year. In addition to these, three more shows namely. ‘Ramsay’s Best Restaurant’, ‘The Good Cook’, and ‘Everyday Exotic’ would be premiering from July 25, August 6 and August 20 respectively.

According to Rahul Johri, Senior Vice President and General Manager – South Asia, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, consumers today are aware, well-travelled and at par with their global counter parts. They are on a quest for finer things in life – from travel to cuisine to everything that encompasses high-life. Globalisation, rising affluence, aspirations and educational levels has also fueled the demand for specialised content. “Food programming is in the DNA of TLC and has been interwoven in the content with lifestyle, travel, jewellery, etc. Our dedicated food programme band ‘Chew’ has been a runaway success,” stated Johri.

NDTV Good Times recently launched ‘Love bites with Joey’ adding to its already existing food shows such as ‘Chakh Le India’, ‘Foodistan’, ‘French Connection’, ‘Highway on a plate’, ‘Travelling Diva’, etc. to name a few.

Food programming in India started as instructional cooking formats, where the idea was restricted to just being able to cook a dish or taking down a recipe and was largely targeted at housewives, said Smeeta Chakrabarti, CEO, NDTV Lifestyle. She elaborated, “It’s only in the last five years that food as a genre has come in to its own and seen a huge boom. NDTV Good Times introduced ‘Food+ Programming’, that wasn’t just about a chef standing behind a table. Indians are now willing to experiment and treat food as a ‘lifestyle’ choice, and not just a ‘life’ choice.”

Apart from the countless culinary shows telecasted on different channels, channels such as ‘Zee Khana Khazana’ and ‘FoodFirst’ are solely dedicated to food-based programming.

‘FoodFood’ was also launched by Celebrity Chef Sanjeev Kapoor in cooperation with the Malaysia-based company Astro in January 2011.

Explaining this venture, Sanjeev Kapoor, Promoter of the channel FoodFood stated, “The food business today is climbing up the success graph as the market today is ready for big things. There would be challenges ahead but the presence of food in the market is indispensable and will continue to remain so.”

Elaborating on the same Chakrabarti said that food shows in general enjoy a loyal and consistent viewer base. According to the numbers shared by NDTV Good Times, shows such as ‘Highway on my plate’ has a reach of 8.5 million, ‘Foodistan’ has a reach of 8.17 million, ‘Vicky Goes Veg’ and ‘Chakhle India’ have reach of 5.5 million upwards.

Apart from the loyal viewer base which helps the respective channels garner considerable TRPs, there are also associations that these shows have with brands that aid channels to generate revenues from the advertisers.

Johri believes that advertisers want high quality and heavy viewership platform and that makes cuisine a natural fit. This has worked for the channel as TLC experienced year-on-year repeat purchase by big advertisers validating the strength of the channel.

Commenting on the same Kapoor stated, “Food channels have the captive audience for food products so it attracts food product related advertisers. Personally I think food shows are an excellent platform for advertisers. If it is not ‘in-your-face’ kind of placement and is more relative to the recipe, then it is a win-win situation for all.”

NDTV Good Times has relationships across various genres, starting from food and related ancillary industries such as modular kitchen brands and processed food brands, to larger, more broad-based advertisers such as consumer electronics. The recently launched show ‘Love Bites with Joey’ has a wide range of associations such as Leonardo Olive Oil, Aliva, Samsung, etc. ‘Foodistan’ has associated with brands such as Idea, Tissot, Gujarat Tourism and Vedanta.

Advertisers today recognise the fact that food content is coming into its own in terms of reaching out to the consumer, and this holds true not just for television but across other media platforms as well.

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