If a quick look through YouTube’s trending lists are anything to go by, the only thing better than food is talking about it. Since the online foodie explosion in 2015, high quality original foodie content has been a sure-fire way to tap into a young and engaged consumer base actively seeking out the next big thing. British filmmakers in particular have seen unparalleled success in the food video industry in the past few years, with top level UK creators frequently leading YouTube rankings and U.S. viewers reportedly consuming more UK-created food videos than the British! We’re taking a look back over who’s who in food, covering everyone from cupcake influencers, to crowd-sharing recipes, to seeing how 2015’s ‘foodtube’ juggernauts have changed their approach to the sector.
With over 9.7 million subscribers and 572 uploads since 2010, Seattle-based channel Rosanna Pansino is the undisputed queen of foodtube. Combining a how-to cookery show presenting style with personality driven YouTuber content, Pansino uses her channel to host ‘Nerdy Nummies’ – a baking show that taps into geek culture. Often tying in with big-screen releases, her content varies from ‘How to Make a Frozen Princess Cake’ (currently standing at a whopping 177 million views), to making a ‘Chess Cake’, to even an original music video. Pansino’s wide-ranging, high energy content aims to provide a little something for every viewer, consistently proving itself as one of foodtube’s furthest reaching channels often garnering over 20 million views a month.
Pansino is at the head of the huge Food influencer market, a table shared by big name celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and ‘The Body Coach’ Joe Wicks and one that is rife with big budget brand endorsements. Among Rosanna Pansino’s endorsement portfolio are multiple ‘Starbucks challenges’ partnered by the coffee brand, alongside sponsorships from Audible and Apple on conventional content. Other brands working with Pansino include kitchenware company Wilton who last year collaborated with the YouTube star to release a collection of branded baking tools, primarily marketed through Pansino’s channel. Currently listed at the #1 spot on Forbes’ 2017 food influencer list, it would seem the Pansino bakery empire is only getting started.
Any and every young UK-based foodie is likely to have heard of these top-tier food content producers. The channel, led by four school friends with a shared passion for all things gastronomical, came together from a series of university pub outings where the groups resident trainee chef would share recipes to save the others from awful student cooking. As the idea grew beyond the group, more and more like-minded foodies wanted a way to get a hold of the groups quick and easy recipes. And so, SortedFood was born.
The channel – fronted by Barry James Taylor, Jamie Spafford, Mike Huttlestone, and Ben Ebrell – has seen a meteoric rise in the past few years gaining over 1.8 million subscribers since their inception in 2010. The group pride themselves on being self-styled ‘picky’ with the content they produce and the brands they work with, noting in an interview with MarketingWeek that they don’t work with clients looking for media clients, claiming that the SortedFood brand is based on needing to ‘build up the community in the right way’. The group say that authenticity is at the core of what they do, even stating that when food brands come to them looking to include their products in a recipe, it ‘becomes a tricky conversation’. As Ebrell states, “If you don’t let [the fans] shape the food, or if the food is shaped by the brand or the sponsor, you run the risk of it not being something people actually want to see.”
We last visited Munchies in 2015 when the Vice-owned channel had only just started several months before, having only just launched the channel’s flagship show F*ck That’s Delicious With Action Bronson. The channel has since been a major component of VICELAND cable TV channel, with Action Bronson being given an international primetime slot with the pre-watershed titled ‘The Untitled Action
Bronson Show’. Still styling themselves as the indie/punk alternative to rival networks, the channel have now picked up party-boy chef Matty Matheson to supplement Bronson’s scheduling with a far more how-to style of food programming with his regular show ‘It’s Suppertime’.
The YouTube channel is still hosting regular exclusive content however, having produced in the last couple of years the web-series ‘Munchies Guide to….’. The food programming-cum-travel guide has seen admittedly lower view-counts than the heady days of Munchies being an emergent genre, however they have carved themselves out a loyal niche of alternative-American food programming at which they sit at the head of the table. Seeing a consistent audience of 100,000 to 2 million views per upload, the pioneering food channel decidedly are decidedly still the market leaders in their self-styled branded content.
3 years ago, Buzzfeed’s Tasty looked set to take over the food programming world. They were not only the leading food-based network on YouTube, but saw multiple pieces of content become Facebook’s most watched videos of all time. Today, though standing strong, they no longer hold the same sort of power over the industry. Despite a massive subscriber base of over 6.5 million users, their daily content garners around 100,000 views, down from the millions regularly seen in 2016.
This may be set to change however. Along with a line of branded cookware, Tasty have started investing more in Rosanna Pansino style personality led content. Videos like last week’s ‘We Recreated The Original Nestlé Wonder Ball’ see view counts up to 6 times that of regular content, with more successful releases like ‘How to Make Mesmerising Japanese Deserts’ seeing views far in excess of 1 million. This disparity shows a clear industry wide trend of shifting toward presented, influencer style content and away from the heavily stylised 60-second content Tasty founded their empire on. As with almost all of today’s social platform video industry, the draw toward long-form, content marketing style video is looking to set the tone for 2018.