By pouring $100 million into original content across 100 new channels, YouTube was bound to find several quality shows. Maybe even a few that are ready for primetime—or in this case, Saturday morning.
In what could be a sign of things to come, close to 200 ABC affiliates starting Oct. 6 will begin airing Recipe Rehab, a show born on YouTube.
These ABC stations will begin airing 26 episodes of Recipe Rehab over the course of the next year as part of their FCC-mandated three-hour block of E/I (educational/information) programming on Saturday morning.
The weekly series, one of nine shows on Everyday Health’s YouTube channel, features celebrity chefs like Laura Vitale and Daniel Green providing “nutritional makeovers” for recipe favorites submitted by families. Since going live in April, the channel has garnered over 17 million video views.
Recipe Rehab is being produced by Trium Entertainment, the firm behind reality hits such as NBC’s The Biggest Loser and syndicated by Litton Entertainment. According to Jared Tobman, former head of Reveille Digital Studios and exec producer on Recipe Rehab, the plan was never to create a backdoor TV pilot.
“We did not expect this,” Tobman said. “YouTube wants to be in the premium content business, and we were creating content for their audience where they live.”
Still, one wonders if ABC’s Rehab pick-up could be the sign of things to come. Given the costly risks involved with any original TV production, launching a series with a built-in YouTube audience could be compelling to many TV networks. In this case of Recipe Rehab, Trium is planning to produce new half-hour episodes of the show while keeping the current YouTube episodes alive on the Web.
On the other hand, there's a danger to attach too much significance to any show launched as part of the broadcast networks' family-friendly Saturday morning block, which has long lost its prominence in the kids' TV landscape. At this point, that programming is seen as more an obligation than investment opportunity.