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Cooking Channel Picks Up Tastemade ‘Grill Iron’ Web Series for TV

Tastemade is jumping into the U.S. cable lineup: The digital food and lifestyle network’s “The Grill Iron” shorts will air as a seven-episode series on Scripps Networks Interactive’s Cooking Channel starting Saturday, Sept. 5.

What’s interesting about the deal is that Tastemade’s primary focus is to develop content for (and generate revenue from) digital distribution, with linear TV an ancillary revenue stream. The approach essentially flips the traditional TV programming business model on its head.

The Cooking Channel pickup comes after Scripps Networks Interactive led a $25 million funding round in Tastemade last year, together with John Malone’s Liberty Media, Redpoint Ventures, Raine Ventures and Comcast Ventures.

“Grill Iron” is a show about football tailgating culture at college campuses across the U.S., bringing in local chefs who create dishes inspired by fans’ culinary traditions. On Cooking Channel, each half-hour episode edits together two segments that previously ran on Tastemade’s digital platforms. The show is hosted by Jackie “Jax” Tranchida (pictured above with an Ohio State fan), who has appeared on LX.TV’s “1st Look” on NBC and Mark Cuban’s AXS TV.

Tastemade began exploring ways to work with Scripps last year and together they landed on “Grill Iron” as the first show to join the SNI cable family, Tastemade co-founder Larry Fitzgibbon said.

“We weren’t really focused on shopping (‘Grill Iron’) for television,” he said. “Given our partnership with Scripps, it made sense for both parties.”

The pact with Cooking Channel for “Grill Iron” is Tastemade’s first American TV deal. The startup previously licensed segments from its “Thirsty For…” drink-recipe series to Japanese channel Foodies TV.

Season 1 of “Grill Iron” was directed by Gab Taraboulsy. Tastemade plans to debut season 2, helmed by James Mann, in October with a run of 11 episodes shot at nine colleges.

Fitzgibbon emphasized that Tastemade will remain focused on digital-first content and distribution. “Every day we wake up and think about audiences that are primarily consuming the content on social and mobile platforms – that will continue to be our primary focus,” he said. “But we have learned over the last year that we can take this content to larger screens. To the extent we can reach a broader audience through partners with great distribution, we’ll look to do that.”

Tastemade’s distribution partners include Apple, which provides its video content on Apple TV, as well as YouTube, Vessel and Snapchat. The Santa Monica-based company, founded in 2012, claims to reach more than 30 million viewers and 88 million followers on social media.

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