YouTube Network Tastemade Raises $25 Million Led by Scripps, Liberty Media

Food-centric digital media startup also announces plans to release Android app this month

Food Network owner Scripps Networks Interactive is buying a piece of Tastemade — a YouTube multichannel network building a stable of food-centric programming for online audiences.

Tastemade announced $25 million in series C funding, led by Scripps Networks Interactive with participation by John Malone’s Liberty Media, bringing the startup’s total funding to about $40 million. The latest round also included existing investors Redpoint Ventures, Raine Ventures and Comcast Ventures.

“We have some great financial investors, and we thought it was a good time to bring in strategics,” said Tastemade co-founder Larry Fitzgibbon, who oversees the MCN’s operations. The new funding will let the company “accelerate our vision to create a global community of food lovers” revolving around video.

The investments by Scripps and Liberty Media in two-year-old Tastemade continue the trend of traditional media firms investing in or acquiring digital-video startups, specifically in the YouTube MCN space. The biggest move on this front was Disney’s recent purchase of Maker Studios in a deal worth up to $950 million.

Scripps is “absolutely a leader in the food space,” with a big digital presence already, Fitzgibbon said. Tastemade plans to work with the programmer to collaborate in different areas, like cross-platform promotion, ad campaigns and content, with details yet to be determined.

SEE ALSO: Ryan Seacrest Prods., Tastemade Ink Deal for Food TV Programming

Tastemade, which launched in August 2012, is not cash-flow positive but “we were in great shape… I think we found some great partners” in Scripps and Liberty Media, Fitzgibbon said. With the funding, Brooke Johnson, president of the food category at Scripps Networks Interactive, will join Tastemade’s board.

On YouTube, Tastemade now reaches over 18 million monthly unique visitors with its original series and other content. It also distributes videos via Hulu, AOL and Yahoo as well as the Tastemade app. Earlier this year, Tastemade inked a pact with Ryan Seacrest Prods., under which the companies plan to develop projects together for TV.

A key growth area for Tastemade is sponsored content. The startup has run two travel series sponsored by Stella Artois, and has launched a new series, “Local Flight,” with Grey Goose vodka. “Our audiences have really embraced it, and we are going to be using funds to ramp up the team to strike similar partnerships with brands,” Fitzgibbon said.

In addition to the funding news, Tastemade announced plans to release an Android version of its app later this month, to be available first on Samsung devices. Like Tastemade’s existing iOS app, it will let users create their own short-form, HD-quality episodes of places and food they love, and share those on the service.

Santa Monica-based Tastemade was formed by three of the co-founders of digital-media firm Demand Media — Fitzgibbon, Joe Perez and Steven Kydd. The company has about 30 employees, and with the latest funding expects to hire staff in areas including product development, engineering and business development, according to Fitzgibbon.

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