Have you ever heard of the YouTube culinary superstars Rosanna Pansino, Barry Lewis, or Harley Morenstein? No? Well you should start paying attention because they could be the next Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, or Mario Batali.

Last year, Scripps Interactive, the company that owns a variety of television networks including Food Network and The Travel Channel, helped raise $25 million for Tastemade, a large network of culinary online video channels. And in an age where everything is increasingly shifting over to digital, that seems to be the right move. More and more Americans (including myself) are cancelling their cable subscriptions, instead relying on Apple TV, Roku, or YouTube to get their video/movies fix.

According to a New York Times article Sorted Food, a Cooking Channel, Is a YouTube Hit, “While still not as popular as comedy or gaming channels, which measure their audiences in tens of millions of subscribers, cooking and food is the fastest-growing genre on YouTube, according to Google.” This means that YouTube culinary stars have the potential to have just as powerful an audience reach as Food Network's top stars. In the same New York Times article it noted that "last year, YouTube’s top 20 cooking channels generated nearly 370 million views and more than doubled their subscribers.” This is in opposition to the declining numbers the Food Network and Cooking Channel have recently posted.

Tastemade alone reaches 18 million people every month on YouTube, generating more than 100 million views. Tastemade is unique as a network in that it doesn’t own most of the channels or produce the shows. But rather it serves as a place to house the content and help the creators monetize their shows by promoting their content, selling ads and partnering with brands. In terms of revenue, online food networks also rely on traditional ad revenue, just like television, but brand partnerships have also become increasingly popular with brands sponsoring a trip or a theme show that’s in-line with the brand’s messaging. For example, a tourism board may sponsor a trip to their country for an episode or an appliance company will refurbish and entire kitchen for a show.  Brands specifically wanting to connect with a millennial audience should also look to YouTube cooking channels as they watch 30% more food content than any other demographic, according to the Millennials Eat Up YouTube Food Videos think with Google article.

The rise in YouTube food channels (a 280% growth in subscriptions in 2014) is particularly interesting because the hosts are “Average Joes.” They’re not intimidating to their audience because of their culinary background or the four-star restaurants they own. People turn to their channels for inspiration or lessons because they believe they can cook everything themselves in their own kitchens.

The accessibility and popularity of YouTube food shows means huge opportunities for companies to connect with a growing audience since, as we say at the Connect Group, “Everyone Eats.”

- Cassie