Travel Channel Straining Bourdain Fans’ Loyalty

By Karen

The hiatus of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Season 7, continues. Crew member Helen Cho just tweeted that new episodes will resume July 11.

I’ll believe that when I see it.

Just as NR was heating up in its more child-friendly slot, Travel Channel yanked it for 11 weeks, throwing 9 p.m. up for grabs. Obviously, they expect Bourdain fans to keep checking back ad infinitum on the off-chance we won’t see Tony in Greece again.

This is the erratic, bullshit programming you get when you hire a bunch of drunken frat boys to plan the schedule with a dart board.

Speaking of which…

Composing this rant, I came across this article where Scripps Networks describes their ideal fantasy demographic for TC. It’s “upscale, fairly young and mostly male.”

They consider Bourdain a “tent-pole” personality, along with such luminaries as gross-out artist Andrew Zimmern, professional pig Adam Richman, and that hyper-testosteroned idiot Zach Bagan who sees dead people everywhere. Scripps claims Tony’s upcoming visit to Cuba will be “huge.”

On the other hand, Scripps says they want more programming focused on domestic destinations. I see this heading for another Cook’s Tour v. Food Network impasse.

I’ve got a news flash for Scripps: Bourdain turns 55 this month. Regular NR viewers know he’s a family man now and has drastically curtailed the “wild and crazy guy” stuff. How much mileage do you seriously expect to get out of him tooling around the States as a “former” bad-boy?

Scripps makes a grave miscalculation if they think legions of young men are jumping on the Bourdain bandwagon these days. How many boys aspire to be “as cool as Grandpa?”

Bourdain makes brilliant travel shows for grownups. If he wants to continue doing it, I hope there’s a network with more mature leadership he can call home. Travel Channel doesn’t deserve to have him.

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15 Responses to Travel Channel Straining Bourdain Fans’ Loyalty

  1. zappa says:

    Yes there is !! PBS!! He can do some cool shows and sell some cool shit

    ZM

  2. adele says:

    If I (and it would be purely by accident) tune in the the NR Greek Islands show again, I might kick in my television. I wonder what Scripps thinks they can sell to upscale young male viewers that they don’t already have.

    The first time I saw Anthony Bourdain was on a PBS show about Typhoid Mary. ZM, I agree that PBS would be perfect, except that I wonder if they’d have the money to pay for far-flung destinations.

  3. zappa says:

    Adele,most of Eric Ripert’s (delightful!) shows are European and domestic,but Todd Grey does a lot of Asian travel.I think AB should start tagging along with Jose Andres and the rest of his buddies already on PBS and spin off his own show.I’ve enjoyed watching him travel for years,but I would love to watch him cook!

    ZM

  4. zappa says:

    PS I am sick to death of the Phillipines show!!

  5. catsworking says:

    For a long time, French Polynesia was the only episode I hadn’t captured on tape, but I finally got it. Now, every time I turn on Travel Channel, if he’s not in Greece, he’s in French Polynesia. I feel like they’re mocking me.

    What I REALLY need them to rerun are Madrid, Dubai, and Rome (and the making-of-Kerala special) because those are among the ones I lost when my recorder ate a whole DVD. They were only Season 6, but does Travel Channel ever show them now? NO!!

    I’m telling you, they’ve got drunken frat boys pulling the schedule out of their asses. What else explains the Ghost Adventures marathons EVERY SINGLE FREAKING WEEKEND??!!

    And I believe this whole demographic of the “upscale young male” is a myth. Doesn’t anybody at Scripps read the paper? Those guys are NOT going to college, NOT finding good jobs. If they’re traveling, it’s not in first-class.

    Now I forget who I was reading about, but there was some other entity (maybe fast food – Hardee’s?) going after the same demographic and it was a big flop. Young males may have the stupidity to blow big wads of cash on dumb things, but they just don’t have the cash.

    I’m wondering how this new direction fits with the Chase Sapphire partnership. Haven’t seen anybody whipping the card out lately, and I’m thinking young males aren’t Chase’s ideal target market.

  6. adele says:

    ZM,good point about the Ripert shows,and now that I think about it, Zero Point Zero already has done some PBS shows.

    Apropos of nothing, one of the Chicago PBS stations has started showing “Vine Talk,” a wine show with celebrities sitting around doing blind tastings,hosted- by Stanley Tucci — it’s pretty charming.

    And Karen, I think you’re right about the upscale young males. If there are lots of young men making scads of cash, they must be working all the time and not watching TV anyhow — and there can’t be that many of them

  7. MorganLF says:

    My first mash post on Tony’s blog begged him to go to PBS by far my favorite channel.

  8. catsworking says:

    Adele, Vine Talk sounds delightful. But now I’ll forever think of Stanley Tucci as Paul Child.

  9. Imabear says:

    Saw a rerun of Sweden yesterday. If the TC thinks I’m going to sit and watch a bunch of crap that doesn’t interest me while I await Tony, they are sadly mistaken. Indeed, who in the age of the remote and 150+ cable channel selections is going to do so? Seriously, I’d just turn the thing off and read a book before I’d watch Zimmern (that man is gross). My hubby likes Richman, but the man is blowing up like a tick on an artery – how much longer before he explodes???? Sad and frustrating.

  10. catsworking says:

    Funny you should mention Zimmern, Imabear. I tried to watch his show over the weekend. Can’t remember where he was, but he was eating this fishy slime out of a soft drink bottle. He said it looked like snot – and it did. I only lasted a few minutes before I changed the channel.

    I think the Travel Channel’s decision to sacrifice seasoned (translation: older, more affluent) travelers for boys seeking thrills and chills will prove to be a big mistake.

  11. Imabear says:

    Now that is just nasty. Is that really what TC thinks “upscale” male travelers want to see?? (are there any “upscale” males left? I thought they all lost their jobs & BMWs when the economy tanked).

  12. Mary Austin says:

    I totally agree with this. The travel channel has been going downhill for a while now. PBS or BBC America is where Tony should hang his hat–he’s too classy to hang with some of these ridiculous shows.

  13. catsworking says:

    Mary, they’re stretching the gap in Season 7 out so long, I’m beginning to feeling like No Reservations is a goner — kind of like Mad Men.

    But it’s not only the Travel Channel. All the cable networks seem to have no grasp of seasons or schedules. Shows appear and disappear on a whim. You never knew when you’ll catch new episodes of anything anymore. I guess that’s why people have DVRs.

  14. tuno says:

    I can’t believe I found someone that spoke to me by way of this discussion…I sent a “complaint” on TC’s website (as a female in her mid-forties…wrong “demographic”) who obviously no longer fits their profile. I never received a response.

    While I enjoy Bourdain’s programs, I do not enjoy Adam Richman gorging himself like a college fratboy, Zimmern eating things that the dog would not touch…and Begans looking for the dearly departed.

    I am in that demographic that TC is no longer interested in. I am a middle aged woman with some disposable income, and a maturity level, the kind that enjoys worldwide travel…such that Bourdain and Samantha Brown provided…places that were exciting, and Bourdain with his edge. However, I am now beseiged with some guy showing me where things are “off limits” (who gives a ___), Begans hosting a paranormal team contest, and Bert conquering a roller coaster. There are no female hosts anymore. God knows I cannot stand watching frat boys. I would watch MTV for that.

    THANK YOU for allowing me express myself and not be in solitude! I thought it was me!!! I imagine that Bourdain is slowing down a great deal, and has made the money. He is also raising a daughter and is probably a little grown up for TC. I’m for him going to PBS.

  15. catsworking says:

    Welcome, tuno! And thank you for your eloquent comment. I hope TC is reading.

    Since they dropped the new season of No Res, I haven’t tuned into the Travel Channel at all, except to retape the Madrid and Rome episodes my DVD recorder destroyed. My reasons are exactly the same as yours.

    I don’t know what TC’s relationship with Chase is these days, but TC can bet their bippy they’re not attracting an audience that would qualify for the Chase Sapphire card.

    I’ve been taking a break from the Bourdain posts because he and his peeps have become a PR machine on Twitter and everywhere else, I have nothing to add. But I will soon be sharing my thoughts on his upcoming show, 24-Hour Layovers.

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