It’s probably been impossible for any sentient being over the last several years to fail to notice the relative explosion of food-related content in just about every medium.
While perhaps the most prominent success stories remain the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, they are far from alone. The magazine racks are stuffed full with every kind of cooking publication from high end to down home, the light and “healthy” to the regionals and artisanal. Online food sites, podcasts and social media properties, like Foodspotting acquired just last week by OpenTable, have thrived.
Even those social media sites not directly themed to food or drink seem to drip and ooze with lip-smacking goodies. Take a stroll through the pinboards of Pinterest — and you’ll soon feel the need for a hearty snack. Food is among the most popular subjects for user-generated content of any kind, especially in the blogosphere.
This trend has been helped by the emergence of a never-ending number of celebrity chefs — along with an alarming number of personalities that cook (there’s a big difference) and other commentators, reviewers and the rest. (Full disclosure – I have an extremely modest and noncommercial interest in the latter category.)
However, it is interesting (and potentially lucrative) to consider where the next big themed opportunity in content will arise.
Neither the food nor the homes category emerged from a vacuum; it’s likely the seeds of “the next big thing” in content is already with us in some form. Identifying it is another matter.
For example, while both Discovery Networks and A&E (not to mention PBS) have significant investments in historically based programming, could the sector sustain the sheer volume of media outlets and the volume of content that food does? Is there enough to attract advertisers in sufficient numbers and with budgets to sustain quality production, whatever the medium?
Certainly visualization techniques, special effects and the science to connect us to our past -- witness the popularity of the movie "Lincoln" and the interest over finding the remains of King Richard III) -- suggests there is material the to fill the pipeline, but is there a broad enough audience? People aren’t as personally engaged with history as they are with food, but then 10 years ago, people didn’t talk about food-related things nearly as much as they do now.
And that's partly thanks to media efforts.
Clearly, whoever makes the right series of bets on a particular type of content — and it will be a series, not a one-off — will potentially be in a position to replicate the kind of success Scripps enjoys with food. For that matter, it might be Scripps that identifies the beat of the next big hit.