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Since its first broadcast in 1993, the Food Network has grown exponentially to become the definitive channel for food-loving audiences around the world. With millions of worldwide viewers, hungrier than ever for the network’s programming, the channel launches many new shows each month.
In order to produce and manage such a high volume of original content, Food Network recently embraced Avid products by updating its aging tape-based production workflow with an end-to-end Avid workflow made up of solutions built upon the Avid MediaCentral platform. The new workflow enables Food Network to streamline production, enhance collaboration, and produce the high-quality content that viewers crave.
Rapid growth and change
Like many broadcasters in today’s media industry, Food Network is going through a period of significant change. After years of centering its programming around traditional cooking shows— many of which became television classics—the network launched Cooking Channel in 2010 to handle cooking shows such as Good Eats, Emeril’s Florida, and You’re Eating it Wrong. This allowed Food Network to focus on popular reality and competition-based shows like Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen.
Food Network’s audience has also grown immensely—almost 100 million U.S. households now receive the channel. As its audience has increased, so has the competition from other networks that want to emulate its success. To attract new viewers and stay on top of the television food chain, the network is constantly producing fresh and original content.
We’re saving money by replacing tape-based workflows with file-based processes and saving man-hours by accelerating our production.
KATE MILLER, VICE PRESIDENT OF PRODUCTION OPERATIONS, FOOD NETWORK
"We launch many new shows every month, and just like food needs to stay fresh, so does our content," says Kate Miller, vice president of production operations for Food Network.
Streamlining the production process
With so many shows being produced at the same time, Food Network faced significant media management and storage challenges. For example, sometimes material would come in late in the project, making it necessary to keep content in online storage for extended periods. And when material came in early, it needed to be available immediately so staff members could start screening the material. Furthermore, most of Food Network’s shows are field-based, shot in locations around the country. The hub of production is based in New York, while broadcast operations are in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Considering the massive amount of content the channel produces, the production team is small—the New York location has 10 edit suites manned by five staff editors and a pool of 25 freelance editors. In order to improve production efficiency throughout the organization, Food Network needed a media management solution that would enhance collaboration across multiple locations and enable team members to access its media archives with greater speed and efficiency.
To meet these challenges, Food Network implemented advanced media management and storage solutions, including ISIS shared storage, Interplay | Production asset management, and Interplay Central. Now, everyone across the entire organization can upload, access, edit, share, log, track, and sync media and projects in real time—from any location.
"Now that we’ve implemented Interplay Central, we’re able to instantly provide screeners to the producers," says Russ Lord, post-production manager for Food Network. "As soon as material is brought in, it can be made available through a simple web browser. They can instantly begin viewing material and approving sequences as soon as they are created."
The Avid workflow at Food Network has also eliminated copious videotape—saving money and vastly accelerating the production process. Previously, screeners were distributed on tape, with various versions of the cut floating around the facility. Producers would then have to take the tapes, go through and mark content for promos—a very time-consuming process.
The Avid MediaCentral platform is integral to our workflow. We’re able to accomplish more, with fewer resources.
KATE MILLER, VICE PRESIDENT OF PRODUCTION OPERATIONS, FOOD NETWORK
"Now, instead of fast-forwarding through endless tapes, our producers are able to review via any desktop PC—it’s much faster and easier," Miller explains. "The producers can now work as quickly as they want to. We’re saving money by replacing tape-based workflows with file-based processes and saving man-hours by accelerating our production."
For short-form content, Food Network uses its in-house network to deliver content to satellite locations around the U.S. "Not only are we saving all that money we spent on tape, we’re eliminating the shipping charges we spent on delivering tapes to other locations," Miller adds.
A large volume of promos
With so many new shows in production, the network’s promotional needs have increased exponentially. In the past, Food Network only created promos for shows that were doing well. Today, the network creates promos for every new show. And for the spots to be effective, the team needs to generate the content long before the show wraps up production.
"The Avid MediaCentral platform allows us to get the footage we need in a timely manner so we can produce promos faster than before," says Lord. "We were able to start airing promos for Cutthroat Kitchen a month before the show aired. It helped to build buzz and excitement before the show aired, which contributed significantly to the show’s success."
No signs of slowing down
Food Network shows no signs of slowing down. In addition to the growth in programming, the Food Network brand has expanded to include magazines, kitchen products, wine, and a chain of airport cafes. "We’re enjoying greater efficiency across the board. And we’re able to accomplish more, with fewer resources," says Miller.