Gusto’s Global Ambitions

Since founding Gusto Worldwide Media in 2013, Chris Knight has cemented the positioning of Gusto TV in Canada—where the channel brand is now owned by Bell Media—and established a thriving food-content-sales business internationally.

For 2019, Knight is firmly focused on bringing the Gusto channel brand to other markets across the globe. Since last year, the 24/7 service has been available in Singapore on StarHub. This month, Gusto announced deals to be part of Olympusat’s VEMOX OTT platform in Latin America and Sinclair Broadcast Group’s new streaming operation STIRR in the U.S. As the channel continues to expand, Knight says he is looking to establish an on-the-ground presence in key territories.

“Creating content in the markets that we’re in is extremely important. We built Gusto as a global brand, a very sophisticated, worldly brand. But we also believe that you have to make content where you are.”

Knight recognizes the challenges of the linear channel space globally, but sees more opportunities than obstacles. “When I launched Gusto in Canada, everybody told me I was out of my mind. The regulatory hurdles alone, and the barriers to entry to launching your own television network, would make most people faint. I’m pretty familiar with challenges in launching a service in new countries. It does not faze me. I’m looking for partnerships. We’ve had great conversations with people who understand the subtleties and the intricacies, whether it’s Korea or Vietnam or China. That’s what we’re looking to do, create partnerships with people in all the different markets we want to get into.”

Key to Gusto’s business model is producing and owning all of its own content—which is all produced in 4K. “I can do a deal on the back of a cocktail napkin,” Knight quips. “I don’t have to check with anyone; there are no third-party suppliers.”

The company is being open-minded in its expansion plans, opting for a variety of different routes to market, well beyond a traditional carriage deal with a pay-TV platform. “We have branded blocks that we’re talking to people about,” Knight says. “There are conventional content sales, which we’re always keen to do. We would like to embed our content on telephones. We would like to have our content seen on refrigerator doors as they start rolling out 4K screens, as they have now in Korea.”

Knight continues, “Our greatest strength and our greatest weakness is that we are still small. Being small allows us to be nimble and to adapt. We don’t have a great, big, overarching infrastructure and hierarchy. We can adapt to the changes in the market, we can adapt to the requirements of any individual market. Because we own everything, there’s nothing we can’t do.”

There’s also a new line of business that Knight is taking Gusto into: meal kits. Subscribers would receive a recipe and all the ingredients, and instructions, needed to execute the dish. “We’ve been on the air for half a decade in Canada. We have this great market where we can test our concepts and ideas before bringing them to a global market. Right now when people watch Gusto, they watch a show and say, ‘Wow, that looks delicious,’ and then they go to the website and click on the recipe icon and find the recipe—that’s three click-throughs. Then they download the recipe, take it to the grocery store, buy those ingredients, go home and make the dish. If your family loves it, I’ve just become part of your life. That is a powerful relationship with the viewer that you can’t get with any other sort of television. But right now I create the need, I don’t fill it—I leave you at the grocery door. So for the last year, we have been test marketing and getting involved in the online meal-delivery business, based on our television shows and the recipes we create through the shows. That is the convergence of multiple technologies at a moment in time where it is actually possible to do it.”