retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Los Angeles Times has a story about how Discovery, parent company to the Food Network, is launching a new streaming service "called Food Network Kitchen that will be integrated into Amazon.com’s digital assistant, Alexa."

For just $6.99 a month, users can take online cooking classes from Food Network stars such as Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray, and can "use the app to text their questions, which may be answered by the instructor during the live show."

The story notes that the Food Network has a built-in audience that may be transferable to the new service - close to 100 million US households have access to the channel, and 80 million people visited its website just during last year's Thanksgiving holiday season.

The Times writes that "the effort comes 18 months after Discovery spent $12 billion to acquire Scripps Networks Interactive Inc., then parent of such popular cable channels as Food Network, home improvement channel HGTV and the Travel Channel. The New York company is looking for ways to adapt its cable programming business for the digital age. More consumers are dropping their cable subscriptions and are opting to entertain themselves with a growing number of streaming video services."

The service also will be available for Apple and Android devices.

A couple of thoughts here…

First, it seems at the moment that pretty much everyone is starting a streaming service. (Do I have to start thinking about launching one for MNB?)

Second, and more importantly, this points to the direction in which technology is taking us. While I think this certainly is a great example of how Alexa-powered systems and their ilk can connect businesses and consumers, it also seems to me that this is just a stop along the way. MNB readers may remember our coverage of a company called Rival Theory, which is developing the technology that conceivably could create virtual versions of Flay, Ray and other Food Network stars that could interact with consumers and not just offer online cooking classes, but - by using AI - allow those experts to learn and grow and evolve in how they respond to people's needs and questions.

This is fascinating stuff, and the Eye Opening possibilities are endless.
KC's View: