Non-Scripted Outlets Want A Bigger Piece Of The Hostess Pie

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The Food Network made Emeril Lagasse and Rachael Ray into television stars and household names. They’ve also become multi-millionaires from the sales of countless books and other merchandise; revenues the network admits are typically excluded from their talent deals.

The NY Times reports that about a year ago, the “Food Network began aggressively trying to change that with new deals that were ‘way more onerous’ from the stars’ point of view, said a person who has been affected by the changing strategy, by insisting on a stake in book deals and licensing ventures, and control over outside activities.”

This is an important sea change in talent negotiations on non-scripted programming. While my experience has been that network participation in merchandising has been part of the ask from cable outlets, it has not, for the most part, been a deal breaker and then only when it arose from an outlet’s desire to embark on its own merchandising efforts (i.e., revenues from branding the network as opposed to the talent).

The Food Network’s approach will likely influence future negotiations at other outlets breaking new talent in their programming though probably less so on deals featuring talent with more hosting experience (i.e., brand recognition in their own right) or have pre-existing merchandising deals. Such talent will have more negotiating leverage but if pressed, may be able to negotiate limited outlet participation “above a baseline” from any bump in merchandising revenues after hosting the outlet’s programming.

  • Asking for merchandising is like a record company wanting a piece of concert revenues. But if The Food Network was to extend its revenue streams to include ancillary activities,then they need to come up with a financial enticement. Madonna made a severely large advance on her next concert tour gross, movie appearances, albums, etc.

    It’s obvious that a Food Network show can often launch a thriving business centered around the very star that it created. So, pony up more advance money, fund some of the investment in to the various side projects and everyone is happy.

    but to just expect a share of cookbook revenue without an initial incentive is wrong.

  • Asking for merchandising is like a record company wanting a piece of concert revenues. But if The Food Network was to extend its revenue streams to include ancillary activities,then they need to come up with a financial enticement. Madonna made a severely large advance on her next concert tour gross, movie appearances, albums, etc.

    It’s obvious that a Food Network show can often launch a thriving business centered around the very star that it created. So, pony up more advance money, fund some of the investment in to the various side projects and everyone is happy.

    but to just expect a share of cookbook revenue without an initial incentive is wrong.