Media World: Yummo! Food Network soars as restaurants flounder

The next Food Network Challenge may be this: getting the home of Rachael Ray (right), Bobby Flay, and Mario Batali to top its recent success.

Over the past few months, the 16-year-old channel has been on a tear -- "Yummo!" as Ray might say -- with cash-strapped consumers turning to the Food Network to help stretch their food budgets. June was the Scripps Networks Interactive (SNI) network's highest-rated month ever, and the second quarter was its best ever as well. The Food Network, which reaches about 98 million U.S. households, consistently ranks among the top 10 cable networks in ratings among the desirable demographic of viewers aged 25 to 54. Its audience, though, is more diverse than that.