Southern cook Paula Deen is attempting a comeback by launching a new online cooking network on Wednesday.
Deen was one of the biggest names in food television until racist remarks she made off screen became public last year. As a result, the Food Network cut ties with her and she was dropped by sponsors.
But before her racist remarks, Paula Deen was best known for her artery-clogging recipes, like the Lady’s Brunch Burger: a burger paddy stacked with a fried egg and bacon, sandwiched between two glazed donuts for buns. She gleefully described it as “over the top – even for me!”
Viewers eager for access to Deen’s old shows with said gems, plus some new content, can sign up to pay $8 to $10 a month for access to her new online network, launched by her Paula Deen Ventures with the backing of private investment firm Najafi Companies.
“About 15 percent of Americans do look up recipes online,” says Jerry Power, with the USC Marshall School of Business, adding the cook book market is also sizable. “So it’s a fairly stable and good sized market that she’s going after.”
But getting people to subscribe—controversy aside—could be a tough sell, since there’s already so many free sources of cooking shows and recipes, says Max Dawson, director of national television and video for Frank N. Magid Associates.
“Paula Deen’s audience, the sort of people who really love her, they’re not early adopters,” explains Dawson. “They’re not experimenting with new content distribution paradigms.”
Those who do could pay a similar amount for service like Netflix and getting lots more variety.
Paula Deen is far from the first celeb to start her own website. Here's a few other examples:
Created—or "edited"—by Blake Lively, Preserve is like Etsy run through an Instagram filter and marketed to a much higher income tax bracket. It's structured like a lifestyle magazine and proceeds go to Lively's charity.
Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's video site has expanded into a media empire. Its big hits like "Billy on the Street" and "Drunk History" have been adapted for TV, and "Between Two Ferns" won an Emmy after an appearance from President Barack Obama.
Gwenyth Paltrow's lifestyle site also boasts recipes, a store and a blog, which made the news in March when Paltrow and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin used the site to announce their "Conscious Uncoupling" (some call that a divorce).
Another subscription service, the Sarah Palin Channel charges $9.95 a month or $99.95 for the year, but you view a national debt ticker and a countdown of Obama's days left in office for free.
Zooey Deschanel's site offers entertainment and lifestyle writing aimed at women, but everyone can enjoy their various live feeds of kittens, puppies, cicadas, owls and more.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Paula Deen's name in the headline. The text has been corrected.
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