Users will be encouraged to watch videos, post recipes, write reviews, share pictures and complete quizzes in return for virtual badges and eventually real badges, which will be posted out.
The cookery school, which currently sits on the website as a series of how-to videos and recipes, could also eventually be extended into a virtual world gaming experience where users can create their own restaurants, similar to Zynga’s Cafe World Facebook game.
It is hoped that the improvements will help increase dwell time on The foodnetwork.co.uk website, which attracts the second highest visit times amongst its competitive set, behind BBC’s Good Food, according to Experian Hitwise. Such improvements will also boost its appeal to advertisers, who can pay to place display ads or sponsor sections of the site.
Nick Thorogood, senior vice president of content and marketing at the Food Network’s owner Scripps Networks Interactive, says: “We are looking at how we allow our viewers to show their connection to the channel and how we can give people something back for their engagement. It really makes a different to have a direct relationship with the content and with the viewer – this is not just about straight forward linear, it’s about being the best in the category.”
Meanwhile, The Food Network is also set to launch a connected TV app that will run on a variety of TVs and set top boxes and a mobile app for Android and iOS, as it looks to extend the reach of the brand beyond the linear TV channel.
The Food Network Channel launched in the UK in 2009 and owns programmes such as Man v Food Nation, Cupcake Wars and Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. It attracts more than 4.5 million adult viewers on average per month, according to Barb data for August, which Scripps claims makes it the leading lifestyle channel in the UK.