Paula Deen Launching Digital Network in September
Paula Deen is creating her own online network.
The former Food Network star has announced plans to create the Paula Deen Network, a subscription-based, interactive digital experience that’s expected to launch in September.
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“Guess who’s going digital, y’all! I’m so excited about my new online network and can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve been working on,” Deen said in a statement. “We’re going to have so much fun being together and cooking up some wonderful new and classic dishes. Y’all can get my recipes, tips and cooking anytime you want -- this is for you. I can’t wait to crank up the oven and get cooking for the people I love: my family, my friends and my fans!”
The Paula Deen Network will contain daily broadcast-quality programming from Deen, where she will share new recipes and cooking tools for her signature Southern dishes and healthy meals. The network will feature both short- and long-form content, with themed shows like “Leftover Mondays” and “Taco Tuesdays,” as well as holiday-themed content. Deen’s family members will also make appearances.
The network will be accessible via computer, smartphone and tablet, with Smart TV compatibility introduced at a future date.
Fans can sign up now to receive updates at PaulaDeen.com, with early registration beginning in July. Those who pre-register will be entered in a sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to Savannah, Ga., to join the live studio audience.
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The network will also be previewed at the first Paula Deen Live! shows in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., on June 21 and 22.
The digital offering marks Deen’s return to producing the type of programming she offered with her Food Network show. After Deen revealed in a deposition that she previously used the N-word, Food Network declined to renew her contract when it expired last June. Despite her repeated apologies, Deen's admission created a media firestorm and led to the crumbling of her business empire, with many companies cutting ties with the chef. Walmart, Home Depot, Sears and Target all ended their relationships with her. The racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit for which Deen was deposed was settled in August.
Deen has since largely stayed out of the spotlight, but in February it was reported that she received a $75 million-$100 million investment from private-equity firm Najafi Cos. to help her make a comeback. Later that month, she insisted she was "back in the saddle," riding her former Food Network colleague Robert Irvine like a horse across the stage at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.
Deen “had several offers to return to broadcast television,” Steven Nanula, CEO of the chef’s company, Paula Deen Ventures, said in a statement, adding that she chose to create a digital network to better interact with her fans and have creative control.
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“She ultimately decided to launch the Paula Deen Network because it gives her a greater level of direct access to her millions of fans when it is convenient for them,” Nanula said. “In addition, Paula will enjoy full creative control of the shows, recipes and content and be able to give her fans exactly what they love most about her. With 4.2 million fans on Facebook and 1.24 million followers on Twitter, it was clear to us that an interactive digital network was the way to go.”
Production began in mid-May in Deen’s new Savannah studio, which was designed to resemble the set of her first TV series, Paula’s Home Cooking. The set was built to host a live studio audience.
Content will be produced by her longtime producer Gordon Elliott, who also executive produces her live tour and created ABC’s The Chew.
Deen also announced the launch of her network in the below YouTube video.