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Of late, the Travel Channel and Food Network have had a prominent South African slant with its content. Debashine Thangevelo spoke to Nick Thorogood, the SVP Content and Marketing for Scripps EMEA, to find out more about the programming facelift and what this means from an entertainment perspective for viewers.
AT A press conference in London a few months back, Scripps Networks International, the network responsible for South Africa’s Travel Channel as well as Food Network, announced a rebranding for the former channel across all international territories.
Described as the “most radical overhaul in its history”, the decision was undertaken to elevate the channel by broadening its content with new local commissions.
Nick Thorogood, the senior vice-president (SVP) of content and marketing for Scripps EMEA, shed light on what this means for South Africans. He first explains what his position entails. Thorogood says: “I am responsible for all of the programming and content, including acquiring, commissioning and sourcing content from our own archives and suppliers, which airs on our three channel brands across EMEA: Food Network, Travel Channel and Fine Living. I am also responsible for overseeing all marketing and communications activity across our EMEA territories.”
As for the catalyst behind the brand overhaul, he say: “In 2013, our main focus has been on one channel, Travel Channel, in order to bring its brand identity into alignment on a global scale. Up to this point, it had been 13 years since Travel Channel’s last rebrand and the revamp in March this year incorporated new messages, logo, design style and content. The channel now has a more aligned look and feel.”
He continues: “Rebranding and rebuilding a brand is like turning a super tanker. It started in early 2013 and the rebrand was complete by March. By the end of 2013 more than 400 new hours will have been aired giving a wealth of new factual entertainment programming.
“A number of new programmes feature sub-Saharan Africa, or where possible feature specific episodes filmed in Africa.”
With Henry Cole in South Africa a few months ago to shoot for Travel Channel’s The World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides, an episode of Descending shot in Cape Town, and Jenny Morris bagging her own cooking show on Food Network – South Africa seems to be the flavour of the month.
Thorogood adds: “South Africa is a great place to film with beautiful scenery and a great climate. We will definitely be filming more in South Africa in the future – watch this space!”
“Jenny Morris’s first series, Jenny Morris Cooks Morocco, aired in more than 100 countries across Europe, Middle East, Africa, the UK and Asia. She is currently filming her second series in the Riviera which will launch on air in 2014.
“Siba Mtongana is another one of our Food Network chefs that was signed to the channel last year. Her first series, Siba’s Table, actually launched on September 23 and will air in more than 100 countries. We are continuously on the lookout for new, vibrant talent for both of our channel brands in South Africa.”
Of the international flavour, he reveals, “we have a lot of new content coming. For example, Luxury Uncovered, which features South African born Jenny Powell where she travels the globe discovering how 5, 6 and 7 star accommodation is delivered.
“A couple of the episodes within this series are filmed in South Africa. This show will air towards the end of October.
“In a highly contrasting show, Rob Bell in Man vs. World, goes back to basics and undertakes travelling challenges of crossing land without engines. Two episodes were filmed in South Africa and for example, feature him absailing down Table Mountain,” he continues.
Thorogood says the Travel Channel has seen a 14 percent (year-on-year) growth from April to September.
He concludes: “South Africa has seen a real uplift since the rebrand in March 2013. This is just the beginning of our journey as we increase our programme offering, as well as local content.”