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Food Network is an American pay television channel that is owned by Television Food Network, G.P., a joint venture and general partnership between Discovery, Inc. (which holds a 69% ownership stake of the network) and Nexstar Media Group (which owns the remaining 31%). Despite this ownership structure, the channel is managed and operated as a division of Discovery Networks U.S. The channel airs both special and regular episodic programs about food and cooking.
In addition to its headquarters in New York City, Food Network has offices in Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, Jersey City, Cincinnati, and Knoxville.
As of September 2018, 91 million households receive Food Network (98.6% of households with cable) in the United States.
Food Network was founded on April 19, 1993, as “TV Food Network”; its legal name remains Television Food Network, G. P. The network shortened its brand name within a few years and discontinued the “TV” portion of the name, thus leaving it as “Food Network”. The network initially launched on November 22, 1993 with two initial shows featuring David Rosengarten, Donna Hanover, and Robin Leach. On November 23, 1993, Food Network launched its live broadcasting. It was developed by Reese Schonfeld (one of the founders of CNN), under the direction of Providence Journal president Trygve Myrhen. Its original partners included the Journal itself, Adelphia, Scripps-Howard, Continental Cablevision, Cablevision, and most importantly, the Tribune Company, which provided the network’s technical output.
Schonfeld, was appointed as managing director of TV Food Network and maintained a spot on its management board along with two Providence Journal employees. The original lineup for the network included Emeril Lagasse (Essence of Emeril), Debbi Fields, Donna Hanover, David Rosengarten, Curtis Aikens, Dr. Louis Aronne, Jacques Pépin, and Robin Leach. The following year, the network acquired the rights to the Julia Child library from WGBH.
In 1995, Schonfeld resigned as managing director of the network, but remained on its board until 1998, when he sold his interest in the company to Scripps. In 1996, Erica Gruen was hired as the president and CEO of TV Food Network, becoming the second woman in history to be the CEO of a U.S. television network. Gruen led the network into an explosive growth until 1998, by launching the largest and number one site for food, FoodNetwork.com, more than doubling the subscriber base, tripling the viewership and multiplying the network’s yearly revenue. In 1997, it was the second fastest growing cable network. Gruen changed the brand positioning from Schonfeld’s “TV for people who cook” to “TV for everyone who loves to eat,” thereby greatly improving the appeal to viewers and advertisers, and saving the network from bankruptcy. Greg Willis and Cathy Rasenberger were two of the original members of the start-up team who led the affiliate sales and marketing of the company from 1995 to 1998. Greg Willis served as senior vice president of worldwide distribution until he left to join Liberty Media in 1998.
The A. H. Belo Corporation acquired Food Network when it purchased The Providence Journal Company in 1996.Myrhen left the Journal Company the following year. Belo sold the network to the E. W. Scripps Company in 1997, in a trade deal that resulted in Belo acquiring the television-radio station combination of KENS-AM/TV in San Antonio, Texas. In March 2009, the Food Network launched a repurposed Food.com as a bookmarking site that allows users to aggregate and search for recipes from different sources online.
The 1080i high definition simulcast feed of Food Network launched on March 31, 2008.
Food Network was first launched outside of North America in the United Kingdom on November 9, 2009, and in Asia on July 5, 2010 (on StarHub TV channel 433 and in HD on channel 468). Since the UK launch on November 9, 2009 on Sky, the channel has been added to the Freesat, Freeview and Virgin Media platforms.
In January 2015, the Food Network collaborated with Snapchat and launched its own Food Network channel, “Discover Food Network”, where social media users can watch the channel through the app. The channel features recipes, food hacks, and tips to entertain and appeal to the social media savvy millennials of today while watching from the palm of their hands.