Future MyNetworkTV programming: Cat Or Food Fight?

For the TV viewer--or executive--success depends on one's particular craving. TV nutrition can come from unusual places.

Steamy, trashy sexy talk and women might not be the right meal. Just ask the folks at MyNetworkTV and their not-so-hot telenovelas. However, over at the Food Network total viewers are up 13%, while prime-time viewership has inched up 3%.

A non sequitur, you say? That depends on your appetite.

Lessons learned here say people hunger for telenovelas--it's one of the most popular TV genres in the world. Last year, at this time, all the broadcasting networks--NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox-- salivated over the fact that telenovelas could be made for a fraction of the $2 million to $3 million per-hour production cost that currently goes into English-language U.S. TV shows.

For a mere $300,000 an episode, you could be in the telenovela business--and get big ratings. So, everybody started looking for ideas.

Does this remind anyone of anything--say, the cheap reality shows or cheap prime-time game shows of recent years?



The Food Network, on the other hand, knows about taste--whether it's Roast Salmon and Tartar in Puttanesca Coulis or Asparagus Tart with Vacherin Cheese. If you think it's unfair to compare the Food Network, a middle-level cable network, to a supposedly bigger broadcast network, MyNetworkTV, the real score might surprise you.

MyNetworkTV, since its launch, is around 650,000 viewers in prime time. The Food Network averaged more--776,000 viewers in prime time. That's right--the Food Network. It isn't even ranked in the top 20 of all cable networks for overall viewership in prime time (though most recently, the network was ranked 19th in total viewers for all day programming.)

What does this say? That unless U.S. viewers warm quickly to the cheap and sultry, MyNetworkTV should think about alternatives-- which is exactly what they might be cooking up.

Forget about fiery catfights. Think about a fiery food fight.

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