If the Food Network gets its way, it soon could give online reservation juggernaut OpenTable a run for its money. In efforts to combat dwindling viewership on all its lifestyle networks, parent company Scripps Network Interactive Inc. has given rise to CityEats, a restaurant-reservation service similar to de facto industry standard OpenTable. It’s now up and running in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. with more than 130 restaurants onboard, according to the Wall Street Journal. While that’s a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the 17,000 restaurants that OpenTable’s amassed since first launching in 1998, Scripps is planning an aggressive strategy to muscle into the online-reservation market.
For starters, CityEats is offering its services with a lower monthly rate as well as charging restaurants less than OpenTable does for each table reserved. (Specifically, OpenTable charges restaurants $1 for each reservation, and CityEats is charging 75 cents.) And, as an added incentive, Scripps will leverage its Food Network production expertise to develop custom video clips to tell restaurants’ and chefs’ stories on its website. The whole thing sounds like it could prove to be a success, provided Guy Fieri stays out of the picture.