Published May 16, 2012
Bruce Seidel is confident the future of food television won't be seen on television.
Which is why the Food Network and Cooking Channel veteran has checked out of network TV to oversee the launch of YouTube's latest original content channel, HUNGRY. The channel, which goes live on July 2, is expected to feature a freewheeling blend of how-to and celebrity-driven food videos.
The venture is part of the Google Inc.-owned video site's plan to launch roughly 100 channels of niche-oriented programming. Earlier this month, YouTube pledged to spend some $200 million to help market those channels across Google and its advertising network.
Seidel was drawn to the project in part for YouTube's ability to create a more direct community with viewers than generally is possible with network television. It also offered more flexibility not just for viewers, but also for producers, who can more easily experiment with format and content.
YouTube also offers an enviably large and young demographic, truly the icing on advertisers' cake.
"The wonderful thing about YouTube is it has 800 million users worldwide and they all need to eat," Seidel said in a telephone interview. "I'd like to get just 1 percent of them."
YouTube content historically has been dominated by low- and no-budget user generated videos. But Seidel, a former top executive at Food Network who oversaw the launch of its sister network, Cooking Channel, said HUNGRY will feature professionally produced videos worthy of any network.
At launch, videos will stick mostly with YouTube convention, running one to three minutes, with new episodes posted weekly. Seidel said they also are eager to explore longer format videos. By the end of the summer, the channel hopes to have close to a dozen series, all produced in partnership with multimedia studio Electus-IAC, which is responsible for the channel's content.
One of the series will feature fellow Food Network alumnus Duff Goldman, the cake master behind that channel's reality show "Ace of Cakes." Goldman's YouTube program, "Duff's Food World," will be a sometimes irreverent variety show focused on food pop culture, including visits to unusual restaurants and spotlights of humorous food clips from the web and TV.