By Sahil Patel
Paula Deen is following in the footsteps of Glenn Beck (and to a lesser extent, Sarah Palin) in launching her own digital video network.
The noted food personality, who famously lost her show on Food Network last year after she admitted to using a racial slur, will launch the Paula Deen Network this September. Upon launch, the network will be available online and on mobile devices, with plans to expand to connected TVs at an unspecified future date.
Going from TV to digital is an interesting — but not unprecedented — move for the former TV star. After leaving Fox News, political commentator Glenn Beck launched TheBlaze online, before expanding the network to television.
Earlier this year, Discovery Communications and Google chairman Eric Schmidt backed Tapp, a new subscription video network focused on building digital channels around prominent personalities like former presidential hopeful Sarah Palin.
“While Paula had several offers to return to broadcast television, she ultimately decided to launch the Paula Deen Network because it gives her a greater level of direct access to her millions of fans when it is convenient for them,” said PDV CEO Steven Nanula in a statement. “In addition, Paula will enjoy full creative control of the shows, recipes and content, and be able to give her fans exactly what they love most about her.”
Paula Deen Ventures is backed by Najafi Companies, which pumped approximately $100 million into the star’s company in February.
Like TheBlaze and Tapp, the Paula Deen Network will also come at a price, though PDV has not revealed how much subscriptions would run. The company is comfortable in believing that Deen’s audience, and their checkbooks, will follow her to digital.
“With 4.2 million fans on Facebook and 1.24 million followers on Twitter, it was clear to us that an interactive digital network was the way to go,” added Nanula.
Early registration for the Paula Deen Network begins in July, with viewers also receiving a 14-day free trial to sample the content once the network launches.
Programming on the Paula Deen Network will be broadcast-quality, says PDV, with a focus on giving viewers greater access to the personality. PDV has set up a new studio in Savannah, which has been designed to resemble the set of Deen’s first TV series “Paula’s Home Cooking” and accommodate a live studio audience.
Production began in mid-May, with a focus on creating both long-form and short-form content. The network will feature multiple original series, including some daily programming that’s themed to a particular day of the week — “Leftover Mondays” and “Taco Tuesdays,” being two examples. Other on-demand and evergreen programming will include “20-Minute Meals” and “One Dish, Three Ways.”
Aside from food and cooking, Deen will also host lifestyle segments highlighting southern living, including topics such as holiday decorating and discovering hidden treasures with local merchants.
Deen has teamed up with longtime producing partner Gordon Elliott to create shows for the network.