Maker Studios, the newest unit of the Walt Disney Company and the self-proclaimed largest provider of content for millennials in the world, unveiled its 23-vertical wide swath of YouTube programming channels at its NewFront presentation Tuesday in New York.
It also formally unveiled its own proprietary web platform, Maker.tv, a premium, curated site. That at least partially exists so that Maker might someday be its own separate thing, not just a hugely successful chunk of the YouTube universe, where YouTube takes a good 45% bite of the ad revenue.
Since there are so many Maker channels, and it can reach 20 million uniques a month, getting its own place was inevitable. And as an artistically distinct brand, with often-brilliant content, it deserves its own home.
In the process, yesterday Maker announced deals with Key & Peele, James Franco, Robert Kirkman, will.i.am, Nyjah Huston, and Morgan Spurlock. It also just signed an ad spending deal with Omnicom Media Group that AdAge says in the low eight-figure range. Venture Beat.com says the deal makes Omnicom virtually Maker’s in-house agency.
More remarkably, it announced Maker Offers, a new ad product by which brands can put in specific ad objectives and demo targets, which will then be circulated to Maker’s 50,000 content creators and come back as advertiser-ready content.
Instant analytics can determine if the content is working. If not, Maker “can fine tune content in real time,” boasted Ryan Lissack, chief content officer.
At the NewFront presentation, the video screens displayed the form it expects advertisers will fill out, and that creators will be sent, outlining exactly what’s required to make content that fits the bill. It seemed like the kind of 21st Century programming assembly line that would make Henry Ford proud.
Erin McPherson, the chief content officer and former Yahoo programming chief, presided over the evening, wearing red strapped heels and a black, rainbow-sequined dress that screamed avant garde (though your screams may vary). If it wasn't newsworthy to note what she wore, I really wouldn't have done it.
Maker hit the Disney/ABC connection early and often--the logos of each were illuminated in on-stage panels. McPherson proclaimed, “Our new relationship with ABC is a natural fit.” Ynon Kreiz, chairman and CEO said of the Disney deal, “This is big.”
Well, that's true.
Part of that new deal means Maker content will somehow worm itself into ABC’s brainless “America’s Funniest Home Videos” series but certainly there will be much, much more than that.
After the NewFront presentation McPherson said, because the $950 million Disney deal for Maker is so new, she doubted ABC will integrate Maker into much of what it’s doing this fall. But soon, she said, over the after party din, that’s the plan. Majorly.
It was odd to hear many Maker creators, current and new, talk about how Maker’s content creation method is so liberating, when on the other hand, it is now part of a media giant that seemingly can’t help but fiddle. We’ll see.
Among the new things Maker is offering are these, as described in its press release:
· Ithamar Has Nothing to Say – A 6-part comedy series that follows an eponymous traveler exploring the U.S. for the first time—all without uttering a single word. The series stars Ithamar Enriquez (“The Office”) and is produced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (“Key & Peele”), Principato-Young Entertainment, Enriquez, and Frank Caeti.
· smartish – From Oscar® and Emmy® nominee and the master of branded entertainment Morgan Spurlock, smartish is a new type of channel for brands to partner on clever content that will exclusively be curated by “smartish” talent across platforms. Show offerings include:
- Consider the Source, which will highlight economic, environmental and the often mysterious journeys familiar products take to get from factories and fields into our very own hands.
- How to Win at Life, based on Charles Duhigg's New York Times bestseller The Power of Habit, this series will take a look at the science and hidden psychology behind everyday choices that may just be ruining your life.
· Over the Top – An original scripted series starring musician, actor, digital star Chester See as a struggling artist trying to make a name for himself in the LA music scene. Based on his real life experience to “the top,” the series documents the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of becoming a digital superstar.
· ShayLife – An uplifting docu-series starring YouTube superstar ShayCarl that gives deserving individuals a rejuvenated lease on life. Shay works to inspire everyday people to make positive lifestyle changes towards longstanding happiness.
· Mind_Craft – Top online gamer Joseph Garrett aka Stampylonghead utilizes the leading kids game Minecraft for a new take on educational programming. The series explores a kid-friendly world that encourages curiosity.
· CRI-CHIC-ING – Armed with a megaphone and ready to critique, style icon P’Trique and her clique of celebrity friends dole out fashion feedback to unsuspecting pedestrians during Fashion Week. Irreverent and good-natured, the series fuses comedy and style for a fun take on fashion.
· Oh, You Pretty Things! – A 10-episode series in partnership with NYLON TV, starring Francesca Eastwood and Alexander Nifong (“Pretty Little Liars”) about a group of twenty-something trendsetters looking for their big break in the underground music and fashion scene on the Eastside of Los Angeles. The series premieres on Maker.tv and The Platform (youtube.com/theplatform) May 19th.