By Gerry Shih
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - U.S. TV network ABC will in October start broadcasting a cooking show that began as part of YouTube's "Original Channels" initiative, the first such deal to take a YouTube-funded program to national TV.
For Google-owned YouTube, the deal is a milestone in its effort to rebrand itself as a place to watch high-quality video, able to compete with traditional TV for advertising dollars as well as audiences.
The deal comes nearly a year after YouTube launched a $100 million campaign to shed its image as a repository for blurry, home-made cat videos, by paying producers to make slick, professional programs like "Recipe Rehab", the show that will make the jump to TV.
Although episodes will be re-shot for the 22-minute TV format, the show is being helmed by the same executive producer as the Web version, and two of its star chefs from YouTube will migrate to the small screen.
"Recipe Rehab is the latest example of how creators are now harnessing the combined attributes of TV and the web to build scaled, engaged audiences," said Alex Carloss, YouTube's global head of original programming.
Recipe Rehab, which teaches viewers familiar recipes, will be broadcast on Saturday mornings on 200 ABC-affiliate stations across the United States, and also continue as a standard YouTube channel.
The show was the brainchild of Mark Koops, a veteran TV producer who created shows including "The Biggest Loser" on NBC, and Fox's "Masterchef", starring celebrity cook Gordon Ramsay.
"Digital has shown its capacity as a proving ground," Koops said. "Now everyone is working out how to monetize the content."
Last year Koops' digital production outfit, Trium Entertainment, teamed up with Everyday Health Inc, a New York-based multimedia company, and jointly pitched YouTube for a chunk of the Original Channels funding.
YouTube ultimately funded roughly 100 channels, including Everyday Health and many others that boasted tie-ins with stars like actors Ashton Kutcher and Amy Poehler, and former basketball star Shaquille O'Neal.
In May, YouTube threw a glamorous party in an attempt to woo advertisers, and present its channels as serious media brands. At the time, it said it would invest another $200 million to market its new channels.
"It's a sign of the emerging times," Koops said. "Television is no longer just the television."
(Reporting By Gerry Shih; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)