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New Recipe for FoodNetwork.com

Boot Camp feature for Friday, April 11, 2003

A new recipe for FoodNetwork.com. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. The Web home of TV's Food Network has been revamped to simplify navigation and the company hopes, generate more income through its online store. Even though the Web site has been attracting about four million unique visitors a month, according to Nielsen Net Ratings, it hasn't been making a profit. Food Network New Media Vice President Beth Higbee... says the site makes money from advertising and the online store... but hasn't found a way yet to tap into subscription revenue the way many other media sites have...

"No, I think about it all the time. I think it's really hard to charge people for something that they're used to getting for free. We all know this. I also think it's very hard for me personally, on this side to charge for anything because, this is really a completion of the viewing experience. And so when you promise that, on air, you can't really go back and say... well look, if you really want this asset, you're going to have to pay for it. We might get to that at some point. I really, truly believe that what people want to pay for is customized, proprietary information."

Such as using the Internet to have chefs provide personalized cooking instruction... .

"If we could get the chefs in the background to actually help people out, which is what people would love to have, they would know that there is an expert chef who could help them with their turkey that's not being brined correctly, people would pay for that sort of information. I do think there's definitely a subscription model there."

But for now, at least, the idea is just simmering. The site does offer demonstrations of cooking techniques and answers to culinary questions Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.