If there was a Yelp TV show, what would you expect it to be called?
Saved By The Yelp?
The Real Yelpwives of San Francisco?
Yelpis and Yelp-Head?
Yelp Vs. The Evil Dead?
It turns out, it’s actually called 12 Hungry Yelpers and it’s definitely a real thing.
It’s one of many new Food Network shows, and it’s being made by the foodie TV juggernaut in a direct partnership with Yelp.
Yelp is making a TV show about Yelp, and it’s ostensibly all about how important Yelp is.
It was only a matter of time.
A Yelp TV Show: 12 Hungry Yelpers
Forbes had the scoop on this new TV show, buried in an article about other Food Network shows. I actually saw the news at the AV Club, which is the most trustworthy news source in the world, if you ask me.
Here’s what Dennis DiClaudio had to say:
The show will reportedly cull the often-abusive user-submitted reviews from the business rating website as a means to inform restaurateurs of the things they’re doing to alienate customers. “12 Hungry Yelpers is a funny new show we’re doing in partnership with Yelp Inc.,” Kathleen Finch, programming chief for Food Network’s parent company Scripps, said in a statement. “You go into a restaurant and give it a Yelp review and then always wonder if the proprietor ever reads them.” MasterChef season three finalist Monti Carlo will serve as host.”
Clearly, Yelp reviews can be funny. We have a whole article series dedicated to the concept.
So, this show should be similar to Bar Rescue, a series I binge-watched last year on Spike TV in a Cambridge, MA hotel room while waiting for various nightlife activities to commence.
Though Bar Rescue is obviously fabricated to some degree, the premise is this: an expert bar consultant goes into failing bars, figures out their troubles, yells at their staff, and rebrands the bar into something different.
In one of the episodes I watched, Jon Taffer made a nice hippie lady cry.
So, restaurant owners, if Yelp reviews aren’t already making you cry, grab some extra tissues. If you agree to appear on 12 Hungry Yelpers, your restaurant will be remade into Yelp’s own image.
At any rate, 12 Hungry Yelpers will surely paint online reviewers in a more flattering light than a recent Yelp-focused episode of South Park that featured reviewers with overblown egos, Cartman threatening one-star reviews unless he gets free dessert, and a slightly less true-to-life plot line of an actual war between Yelpers and restaurant owners.”
Considering Yelp has a big say in the show itself, that seems like an accurate statement.
It’s no secret that many restaurant owners (and small business owners in general) strongly dislike Yelp. There’s a whole Facebook group dedicated to it. Look on any small business forum and you’ll find all varieties of vitriol. Yelp isn’t always popular among business owners.
In his recent book, my boss, Brodie Tyler also wrote a congenial, well-reasoned mini-rant about Yelp. He works directly with small business owners every day, and he understands their frustration.
That’s sort of where RevenueJump comes from, in case you were wondering.
But the announcement of this new TV show got me wondering– is Yelp trying to buy goodwill?
In a piece I wrote earlier this year, I interviewed the founder of an app that focuses on authentic reviews, as well as a food reviewer who hates the bullying tactic platforms, that Yelp and TripAdvisor like to use against small businesses.
No matter how much we complain or advocate for a more authentic Yelp, with more business (and consumer) friendly guidelines, it never seems to go anywhere.
So how does Yelp respond?
They buy the beloved Eat24.
From a statement reported by TechCrunch:
As more food ordering transactions move online, further integrating Eat24 will enhance our user experience with an easy-to-use product and service that allows our large consumer audience to transact directly with businesses,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp co-founder and chief executive officer, in a statement. “Eat24 has developed a great solution and unique service that has already added great value to the Yelp Platform. With this acquisition, we gain more tools and expertise to help engage our users from discovery through transaction in a key vertical for Yelp.”
Now, the restaurants that deliver through Eat24 are more connected to Yelp. Yelp’s grip tightens, and they have the opportunity to capture a user base that already loves Eat24.
Eat24 is a standout presence in both blogging and social media, and they’ve earned the goodwill of their customers and online audience. Yelp turned around and bought that goodwill.
So, I can’t help but see 12 Hungry Yelpers as anything other than an attempt to buy more of the same.
Yelp isn’t changing its business practices, but it is buying a television show to make itself into an even more unstoppable juggernaut.
A slow on the Food Network guarantees a bit of legitimacy.
“See, we’re on TV. We’re important. People like us. Everything’s fine,” Yelp implies.
Yelp is a useful platform for consumers, and it’s sometimes useful for business owners, as well. In the minds of many business owners and consumers, though, it is in need of some reform.
If this TV show succeeds, though, it could make Yelp even more bulletproof.
Only time will tell.
Question: What do you think of this whole development? Do you want a TV show based on funny Amazon reviews as much as I do? Do you also want Wallace Shawn to host it? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!