WorldScreenings: Gusto TV


As Gusto TV continues to chart its expansion path across the globe, the company is hard at work bolstering the culturally diverse catalog of culinary content it offers to its international subscribers. “We’re constantly looking at new ways into food stories and doing things slightly different while remaining true to our ethos and cultural values,” says Chris Knight, president and CEO of Gusto Worldwide Media, noting that the company produces 100 percent of the content available on Gusto TV. “Right now, we probably have 30 to 35 different show ideas in various stages of development.”

Knight adds, “Somebody is always coming into the office and saying, ‘Hey, how about this? Or how about that?’ It’s a very—pardon the food pun—organic process. We realize how unique this is and how blessed we are to be able to be that nimble.”

The inherent flexibility in being the sole producer of its own content means that Gusto TV can change its programming lineup up to just a couple of months out. The channel is also able to experiment with different formats; it has 10- and 20-episode seasons, hour-long shows and is ***Image***now trying out 15-minute programs. “It’s really an evolving and changing process here,” says Knight.

Among the series that Gusto TV is currently working on is the aptly titled vegetarian program VegHeadz, as well as a show that puts spices front and center and an astrology food show. “Those are three different ways into food stories,” says Knight, adding that while the ongoing pandemic has kept production restricted to studio shoots, the company is aiming to get out on-location again in the spring. “For us, on-location means around the world. We hope to be able to get out and shoot, particularly in some of the countries where our audiences have grown significantly in the last 20 months while we’ve been in lockdown.”

Canada-based Gusto TV is currently available in 160 countries and on 31 platforms—with much of the platform expansion coming in the last nine months. Counted among its new partners are TCL, AVO TV, Metaxsoft, Netgem TV, Stremium and SelectTV. “Those are relationships that are now beginning to mature, and we’re excited about watching our audiences grow on these new platforms,” says Knight. “The viewer feedback that we’re getting from the U.K., from Italy, India, people all over the world sending us pictures of their food. Our ambition was always for Gusto to be a global brand, and it’s coming true.”

Knight believes that central to Gusto TV’s global appeal is the diversity of its programming. “I think diversity in our hosts and diversity in the recipes and diversity in the cultures is why our audiences are growing, whether we’re on in Singapore or on in Italy,” he says. From DNA Dinners to the high-concept cultural mashup show CombiNation Plates, the four-host-strong Up the Dish to One Big Recipe, Gusto TV’s catalog is globally resonant. And no small part of the content’s reach is due to the shows’ engaging hosts—for which the job of finding them has become a full-time position at the company.

“We’re constantly getting people now coming to us and looking for opportunities to be a host,” says Knight. “As you can imagine, it takes a person full-time managing and interviewing, doing Zoom calls and setting up auditions and stuff. We’re always on the lookout for new talent and people who can help make emotional connections through food.”

Gusto TV has no intention of slowing its growth, with a significant reserve of content and new shows perpetually heading into production. “Whether you’re streaming or whether you’re an old-school conventional broadcaster, your refresh rate is tremendously important,” notes Knight. “Because we make all the content ourselves, we’re constantly refreshing the content. That’s super important for engagement with viewers on any platform.”

With viewers going to the Gusto TV website and downloading recipes featured in its shows, the channel sees real-time engagement from subscribers. Supporting the engagement is QR technology that enables Gusto TV to push both recipes and e-commerce directly to viewers as they consume its culinary content from their couches. Gusto TV also has “a revolutionary recipe search engine that is now under patent application in the United States that, once it clears the patent, we will deploy,” says Knight. “It will change forever the conversation that a content provider will have with viewers through a digital platform.”

“Food has a very special opportunity to [connect with viewers] because people become engaged and they download the recipes, and the conversation starts,” Knight adds. “The food genre is a very special one when it comes to developing longtail relationships with viewers. It’s a great space to be in.”

Gusto TV has big plans for the new year as it searches for new platform partners to continue its global growth. To support this international expansion, the company is looking to open up offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia—a plan that was put on hold in 2020 amid Covid-19. “We need more physical presence in our major markets,” says Knight. “We need to be shooting in those markets. We’re ready. We’re just waiting for the green light to deploy all of this. We have big plans for 2022, assuming it’s safe and we can do it and take care of our people.”

See Gusto TV’s Winter 2022 Showcase here.