Publisher of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and producer of PBS show aims for even more multi-platform media reach
We’ve made it clear over the years how much we admire America’s Test Kitchen, practically our neighbor here in the Boston area. We admire them because they’ve achieved great success in the past using their own variation of the Mequoda Method. While organic search and social media have never been ATK’s strong suit, the company has made multi-platform media its focus more and more since its founding in 1993, charting a course from its original Cook’s Illustrated to books, video, digital magazines, membership website, events, partnerships, and more.
And the Boston Common Press property isn’t stopping there, even after a contract dispute led to the ouster of founding editor Christopher Kimball (who will remain as as minority owner and host of the popular PBS program). ATK is doubling down on multi-platform media under the leadership of new CEO David Nussbaum.
But when your Minimum Information Unit is a recipe, no matter how high-quality, coming up with a portal content strategy that brings in the right audience and protects the premium content is a difficult strategic challenge, as is expanding digital efforts, right?
“I wouldn’t call them challenges, I’d call them opportunities. It’s a pristine brand, it’s very popular, the content’s phenomenal, they have a very deep backlist of both physical content and video content, and they’re very well-known. So I think it’s opportunities for more growth, rather than challenges. … While still nurturing and focusing on the PBS network, we’d like to move to other platforms, particularly as we see the changes in how people consume television. We are on Netflix and Amazon Prime, but we think there are many other opportunities to expand that platform. … We’d like to launch new shows, whether they’re online-only video channels or different types of broadcast. We see a big opportunity there,” Nussbaum told Nieman Lab Deputy Editor Laura Hazard Owen in a recent interview.
“When you go online and look at one of our recipes on video, we give you a list of what you need to make the recipe. Now, wouldn’t it be great if you could click on the paprika and have that delivered to you? Or click on the whole package of ingredients and have it delivered to you? There are lots of interesting new ways to look at that while still honoring the very core of the business, which is independence — we’re kind of the Consumer Reports of the cooking field, and we’ll continue to honor that. But we’d like to bring this kind of content to more viewers and expanded demographics, and also facilitate the making of the recipes so that it’s a bit easier for our consumers.”
We look forward to seeing how ATK accomplishes this, in the process bringing their business strategy into total alignment with the Mequoda Method. We have a feeling it will include a renewed social approach and commitment to search. And, given Nussbaum’s comments, ecommerce content strategy, of course.
The expansion into grocery sales with the value added around the ingredients required to prepare ATK’s kitchen-tested recipes is interesting. There will be many problems to solve including warehousing and logistics of perishable inventory, but the revenue upside could make up for it. It will be interesting to see if they partner with an existing retailer that specializes in high quality groceries, or choose to build out their own grocery logistics system and drop shipper.
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To read more about multi-platform media in the news, visit Nieman Lab.
Losing Chris Kimball is like using low-fat ingredients and serving cheap wine for a dinner party with special friends and bragging how much you saved. I am expecting to become a former ATK customer…
Removing Kimball is like taking Lebron James out of the basketball game because he’s not playing baseball. I would have doubled down too but on Kimball not Nussbaum.