YouTube 'Hungry Channel' CEO Says The Future Of TV Is Online

bruce seidelMembers of the Hungry channel with Bruce Seidel celebrating the channel’s launch.

Photo: Hungry / Electus

Add former television exec Bruce Seidel to those jumping on board YouTube to showcase new broadcast content. In January, Seidel was appointed CEO of Electus’ new food-centric YouTube channel Hungry, and just two weeks ago, it finally launched on June 27. 

Headed by Seidel, who formerly worked for both the Cooking Channel and the Food Network overseeing shows including “Iron Chef America” and “The Next Food Network Star,” the Hungry Channel currently consists of four weekly shows: the Brothers Green, following recipes of two musician brothers who are underground caterers, Summer Desserts Unplugged, showcasing a different Italian dessert every week, Drink Inc., offering weekly cocktails with two of LA’s top mixologists, and Casserole Queens, featuring a plethora of recipes from two best friends in Austin.

More shows will roll out as the summer continues including a summer beer cocktail show along with Duff’s Food World featuring Duff Goldman (“Ace of Cakes”).

We recently spoke with Seidel to learn why he left television to create online content and what sets “Hungry” apart from the competition.

For Seidel, online content is the one unexplored region he hasn’t conquered yet. 

“In this generation, everyone’s using it [the Internet],” said Seidel. “I’ve always worked with it indirectly and find it critical in my career to harness its potential.”

Seidel also points out one of the great things about moving online is creating high-level content at a lower price. That, plus, where else do you have 800 million potential eyeballs at your fingertips every month?

cooking hungry channel youtube laura vitaleLaura Vitale demonstrates how to make different desserts on her show.

Photo: TheOfficialHungry / YouTube screencap

As well, the two channels Seidel previously worked for own the foodie demographic. Instead, Seidel says starting a new YouTube channel provides plenty of opportunities unavailable to the food networks on TV. That, plus, 

Here are three ways Hungry is setting itself apart from the competition to expand the food category. Take note:  

1. Including niche shows which are only touched upon on television.

Seidel says Hungry can evolve upon user needs by focusing on demographics otherwise not reached on the tube, including a future vegan show and gluten-free show, “Bites and Blues.”

Granted, there are niche channels out there (The Sweetest Vegan, BBQ Pit Boys) with moderate followings in the 10 thousands.

2. Doubling as a teaching tool.

Essentially, the channel helps convert the iPad and YouTube into a personal recipe book on the go. 

One of the goals of Hungry is to provide an outlet for people to learn how do prepare different items, according to Seidel. With easily accessible How-to and Thirsty Thursday playlists (the latter is exactly what it sounds like), viewers can access recipes ranging from cupcakes to summer drinks.  

Of course, other food channels have this, too, right? Sure, just not to this extent. 

While Food Network’s YouTube channel, FoodNetwork TV provides its own videos on how to make cocktails there’s no real “how to” page on its site. Instead, many of the shows available on its YouTube page feature curated content from its television network–a bit stale for an extension of the Food Network brand online. 

The Cooking Channel does a bit of a better job in offering recipes; however, the page isn’t intuitive–items aren’t directly labelled as recipes versus specials on visiting specific venues making viewers sift through the channel for recipes, something that shall try any web surfer’s patience. 

In comparison, to Hungry’s more than 11,000 current subscribers, FoodNetwork TV has more than 36,000–but joined YouTube November 2006. Meanwhile, the Cooking Channel has slightly more than 1,800 subscribers. Still Hungry has a way to go to reach the 2.6 million subscribers of popular channel Epic Meal Time which joined YouTube September 2010.

drink inc.Drink Inc. demonstrates how to make a new cocktail every Thursday.

Photo: The Original Hungry / YouTube screencap

3. Providing a heavy focus on user engagement.

One of the other things the channel will take advantage of is user engagement, something television can’t receive immediate feedback on.

Seidel says Hungry was created with the viewers in mind. As the channel grows, the channel will listen to user-generated feedback and if there’s a real push for a niche item missing from availability–gluten channels–Hungry will consider adding them to their arsenal.

The talent will engage on the channel as well, directly answering back viewers with food-related questions, comments on recipes, etc. Down the line, Seidel sees Google Hangouts with those on the channel and challenges available to viewers to create their own dishes. 

Check out a sample of the Hungry Channel’s Thirsty Thursday drink recipes below: 

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