If you thought Google wasn’t making a play for the pay TV market, here’s another sign for you: Bruce Seidel, a veteran cable exec for Food Network and Cooking Channel, has been recruited to head up a food channel on YouTube. He’ll be working for Ben Silverman’s media company Electus, with the channel set to launch in July.

The YouTube channel’s goal, according to Seidel, is to “engage this new digital generation of food enthusiasts,” but also to reinvent the genre. “There is definitely space for buzz-worthy programming and things that are a bit over the top, but we also want to adhere to the things that work in television.” Topics will include traditional demo cooking shows but also different genres “that haven’t been tackled on television.”

Seidel admitted that his channel’s content will, at least in part, compete with cable. “Some will be competitive and some will be supplemental,” he said. “There’s room for both out there.”

Indeed, the “room for both” aspect is what attracted Seidel to the post. Online, “the sky’s the limit,” he said. YouTube has global appeal, it’s cutting edge and basically, the digital space is where it’s at.

But whether or not these new channels amount to threat to cable is debatable (Cfax 1/9/12). New media companies with YouTube channels such as VICE and Current TV claim their online content is complementary. On the other hand, Turner Networks’ Coleman Breland, told CableFAX, “anything that has a screen is a certain degree of competition.”

There’s no arguing that YouTube has an audience. The more important question is, how long can they keep their attention?

Seidel told CableFAX he sees the industry’s move toward digital as a natural progression, but he did note the popularity of second-screen viewing—essentially touting online content as a complement. According to Breland, what keeps viewers coming back repeatedly is consistent brand experiences and breakthrough shows. Maybe a cable veteran can help with that.

(Kaylee Hultgren is the Community Editor for CableFAX.)

The Daily


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