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Funny Or Die sites expand into cooking, videogames

Thursday 21 Aug 2008 11:44 a.m.

EatDrinkOrDie.com is hoping to find the culinary equivalent of Paris Hilton's political campaign ad.

The site is the latest expansion of the Or Die Networks Group, whose signature site is Funny Or Die, the comedy Web site Will Ferrell and Adam McKay co-created last year.

As is true with the other Or Die sites, Eat, Drink or Die marries professional content with amateur submissions. Each of the sites are branded with celebrity partners who frequency create content in a kind of compromise between old school professionalism and the user-generated ways of the Internet.

So cooking tips from Tom Colicchio of Bravo's "Top Chef" - a partner with the site - as well as other celebrity chefs, can stand next to the family recipe of your grandma's meatloaf or your younger brother's mac and cheese.

The launch of Eat, Drink or Die was to be announced Wednesday. Dick Glover, CEO of the Or Die Networks Group, said he thinks the new site will do for cooking what Funny Or Die has done for comedy - which is, become a niche brand in a crowded field of online video.

"In looking at the broad culinary, food, beverage, health, nutrition world, we saw that it did fit the model," said Glover, who sees food - like sports and weather - as an inexhaustible topic of debate.

The site was created by entrepreneurs Brittany Lovett and Talia Lesak and will feature numerous regular contributors including a wine expert and organically minded tips from "Gorgeously Green" author Sophie Uliano.

While the professional content has driven Funny Or Die (its most famous videos include one starring Ferrell and McKay's daughter, Pearl, and the more recent mock political ad with Hilton), getting user-generated videos to draw clicks has been more of a challenge.

Asked if people will respond to cooking videos from amateurs, Glover responded: "The sharing of recipes goes back to cavemen writing on the walls."

The Or Die Networks, which are funded by Sequoia Capital Group, have been steadily expanding. Launched last year was Shred Or Die, an extreme sports site with partner Tony Hawk. In July, the networks entered the video gamer fray with Pwn Or Die.

The sites are beginning to travel abroad as well. There is now a Brazilian version of Funny or Die: http://www.morraderir.com . Glover says the company is looking to expand to other territories as well.

Not every move has been a success, though. Last month, Blue Collar Or Die folded despite involvement from comedians Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall and Ron White. The site was drawing around 60,000-80,000 unique visitors a month, in contrast to the 3.2 million Funny Or Die has been averaging. (Glover says the Hilton video quintupled numbers for this month.)

The CEO believes the future is brighter for Eat, Drink or Die and other Or Die sites where professional content, he says, is raising the bar of amateur work.

"What we're seeing as time goes by is the gap between the two does start to close up in the middle," Glover says. "We're starting to see more and - more importantly - better user-generated content percolating up."

AP

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