Investors Business Daily
BY JULIE VALLONE, FOR INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
12/18/2015 04:45 PM ET
Eating on-the-go is taking on a whole new meaning, thanks to a growing body of high-quality food video created specifically for mobile devices. The smorgasbord of offerings include cooking show apps with favorite chefs, food travel videos highlighting cultural cuisine from around the world, and even apps that make it easy for people to become the stars of their own mobile food shows.
Steven Kydd, co-founder of Tastemade, can attest to the power of food programming on digital media. Since uploading its first food videos to YouTube in 2012, and then expanding to other social media and mobile platforms, Tastemade has built its audience to more than 100 million monthly viewers.
More than 70% of Tastemade viewers are using mobile devices to view its content, Kydd told IBD.
"Food and travel are universal, and appeal to everyone," he said. "Moreover, we create content natively for digital and mobile platforms, where millennials are spending all of their time.
"It is optimized for a great user experience on each platform."
For example, rather than creating one cooking show in a studio and trying to fit it on all its different platforms, from cable TV to Snapchat, Tastemade producers create shows specifically for each platform. For Snapchat content, for example, shows might run less than a minute, and are filmed using vertical (rather than horizontal) video, which many say looks more natural when viewed on a mobile phone.
On Thursday, Tastemade said it had closed a $40 million funding round, led by the merchant banking unit of Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS). Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) venture unit was among other investors.
To further optimize the videos for their audiences, Tastemade also produces local-language content in many markets.
The company now offers several food and travel apps available for both Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL)iPhone and iPad and for Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Android.
One app released this year, Tastemade Video City Guide, aims to make it easy for mobile users to become the star of their own Anthony Bourdain-type food-travel video shows, with high-quality video, background music and other professional production features.
Eating, Sleeping With Phones
Mobile video viewership in general is rising fast, according to a recent survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. It found that 35% of survey respondents, from multiple age groups, reported watching more video on their smartphone this year than last year. That figure was 50% in the U.S.
Mobile content can be one of the best ways to reach millennial-age viewers, according to a Nielsen study. (Nielsen defines this group as born from 1977 to 1995). Nielsen reports that millennials use smartphones more than any generation; 83% even sleep with their smartphones.
Traditional food content producers are eating up such stats, turning to mobile devices to help expand their viewership. The Food Network, for example, is now providing content on apps like "Food Network In the Kitchen," featuring recipes, how-to videos, grocery lists, and other tools.
Another app, "Watch Food Network," provides entertainment based on popular network shows, such as "Chopped," "Cutthroat Kitchen," and "Guy's Grocery Games."
The "In the Kitchen App" is free. The "Watch Food Network" app provides some free content but requires a cable subscription for full access. Both are available for Apple iOS and devices that use the Google Android operating system.
"We program video daily across many social media platforms and apps, including Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), Instagram and Snapchat," said Angela Moore, vice president of digital for the Food Network. "We tailor each video experience to the particular platform, so fans get something special no matter where they are.
"On Instagram, for instance, videos are limited to 15 seconds, so we post quick tips that are both helpful hacks and just fun to watch."
Others are doing the same.
"Mobile video is growing for everyone, and we see the trends within our apps as well," said Liesel Kipp, vice president of product management for Scripps Networks Interactive (NYSE:SNI). "It's important to us that we build apps that provide incredible utility to help people plan and cook, but that are also fast to load and fun to use."
Wolfgang Puck, who recently launched a cooking school online, is also going mobile. The WolfgangPuckCookingSchool.com website has been created with a responsive design so that it can be easily adjusted for smartphones and tablets. The school is available by subscription for $9.95 a month or $99.50 per year.
"A big part of this growing interest is that cookbooks, the traditional way people got recipes, have become outdated," said David Sculley, CEO of WolfgangPuckCookingSchool.com. "Then it was recipe text online, where 44 million Americans would search for recipes weekly.
"Now that video can be streamed in real time, cooking sites are beginning to produce video. ... The video experience is the best way to learn, and Wolfgang is an amazing, engaging teacher."
Sculley says the show has begun to establish a social media presence on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google+.
Chef Mark Estee is a James Beard semi-finalist and owner of several restaurants in Nevada and California, including Reno-based Campo, which was named one of Esquire Magazine's top new restaurants in 2012. He frequently posts videos on YouTube and Instagram, and he recently completed the filming of an online docu-series, "Chef and the City."
"The food and beverage industry has risen from the worst job to the best job list, or is at least the coolest job to most people," Estee told IBD. "It is hip to be a chef.
"Videos show the sexy, the refined, the gorgeous, the food porn-ness of what we do — or it shows the opposite of those things."
According to Tastemade's Kydd, curiosity about culture, and the way food shapes it, is part of the appeal of food programming.
"Younger audiences in particular follow people on social media from all around the globe," he said. "So we thought, if we could do this in multiple languages around the world, we could introduce each other's cultures to one another through food and through travel.
"There's an awful lot of strife around the world right now; and if people got to know each other through the simple vessel of food, that could be good for the world."