Variety is the key ingredient to a successful digital video strategy – at least in Scripps’ recipe.
Last week, Scripps Networks Interactive made its first investment in a multi-channel network after leading a $25 million funding round into Tastemade, which has positioned itself as the Food Network of YouTube, given the size of its channels and popularity among millennials.
Although Scripps owns cable TV’s Food Network and epicurean adventures are a part of the programming on the company’s digital platform Ulive, owning a piece of Tastemade doesn’t conflict with the interest of the company’s owned and operated networks, says Julie Yoo, SVP of corporate development at Scripps Networks Interactive.
“We’re taking more of a portfolio view in digital,” says Yoo, who leads long-term corporate growth strategy at Scripps and was instrumental in striking the deal with Tastemade. “Many media companies have separate investments aside from their existing business. Think of Hearst, Time Warner, Comcast. They have … investments that are managed very, very differently from their owned and operated businesses. So we don’t think this is competitive to FoodNetwork.com or Ulive.”
She points to Ulive’s diversity in video programming (home décor, travel) and Food Network’s multi-platform offering as the main differentiating factors. “If you look at FoodNetwork.com, we offer a lot more utility than just video,” she says, explaining that the website’s recipe section and TV-show extras are also heavily frequented sections of the site. And although some of the popular programming on FoodNetwork.com is short-form video content, it has a “very different look and feel from what Tastemade is doing.”
Several qualities about Tastemade’s business appealed to Scripps, Yoo explains. For example, its video content appeals to much younger audiences than traditional TV networks reach; it has an international presence, specifically in Latin America and Europe; and the digital startup is keen on investing in mobile initiatives, such as their restaurant review app launched last year.
“We’ve been watching Tastemade through a very exciting phase. They are one of the fastest growing MCNs on YouTube. We wanted to learn and gain an additional insight into how the digital video ecosystem is evolving,” she says.
In terms of engagement and traffic, Yoo says food is one of the most popular categories among Scripps’ properties online, and collaborating with the digital leader in this category is a strategic investment for the company. Scripps’ equity in Tastemade is not being shared.
“Traditional media companies are always looking for the next generation of video production and creators, and when you look at it where the audience is, it’s on YouTube today. So when you look at YouTube, there are only a couple of MCNs that kind of stand out from the crowd in our category and Tastemade is really (one of them),” she says.