The expanded footprint for Tastemade comes amid COVID-19 quarantines, when millions of Americans are streaming more video and cooking at home more frequently — a recipe for heightened engagement, said co-founder/CEO Larry Fitzgibbon.
The company’s audience time spent viewing has increased by up to 60% since February, Fitzgibbon said. “Obviously, yes, it’s a unique moment in time,” he said. “People are also embracing newer platforms — as more people cut the cord, they’re looking at different avenues for consuming content.”
With the two new partners, Tastemade will be available to some 14 million additional viewers (including about 11.5 million through Vizio and Sling’s 2.5 million subscribers), bringing its total reach to about 65 million TV households, according to Fitzgibbon. The deals encompass hundreds of hours of Tastemade’s original programming including popular series like “Struggle Meals,” “Make This Tonight,” “Basic Versus Baller,” and “Broken Bread” (pictured above), hosted by activist and chef Roy Choi.
“It’s two new touchpoints for younger consumers to watch our content,” Fitzgibbon said. “It’s a win for the audience, and it’s a win for our advertising partners as well because we can get them that unique distribution.”
During the pandemic, Tastemade’s “Struggle Meals,” in which host Frankie Celenza demonstrates how to make cheap and delicious dishes, has been particularly popular, according to Fitzgibbon.
The coronavirus crisis has disrupted Tastemade’s production: The company shut down its Santa Monica studio in mid-March. But Fitzgibbon said it was able to quickly move to at-home video production for talent and post-production work. “Overall, we’ve been managing through it pretty well,” he said.
In two other recent distribution deals, Tastemade launched on AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now in February and on Amazon’s IMDb TV in early April. The eight-year-old company’s streaming network is also distributed via YouTube TV, Hulu, Samsung TV Plus, the Roku Channel, Comcast’s Xumo, Apple TV, TVision, Philo, Comcast Xfinity X1, and Amazon Prime Video. Tastemade content also is distributed on YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter.
On Vizio SmartCast TVs (2016 models and later), the Tastemade streaming channel can be found under the “Free Channels” row on the home screen.
To access Tastemade on Sling TV’s Sling Free service, users must download the app on a Roku, Amazon or Android device then click “Explore Free Content.” (The Sling TV free experience is currently not available on iOS devices.) Current Sling TV subscribers can access free content on any supported device, without changing their subscription. Additionally, Sling TV subscribers can opt to subscribe to the ad-free Tastemade Plus service for an extra $3 per month.
Tastemade currently has about 180 employees. Investors in the company include Redpoint Ventures, Raine Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Liberty Media, Discovery, Goldman Sachs, Amazon and Mitsui.