Breaking Out: Break Media Forms In-House Production Studio
The goal is to use the new in-house studio to create upwards of 40 new, originally produced campaigns this year, or about 150 individual episodes of video programming," says Break Media CEO Keith Richman.
"We have access to, and have hired, some very talented writers and directors. What we needed to do was to formalize it and extend what they are doing," he explained, adding that Break began 2008 with about 45 employees and currently has 82. Two of them -- Jonathan Small, vice president of creative lab and editorial, and Tara Leone, vice president, production and distribution - will effectively run the new in-house production facility, dubbed the Creative Lab, which will simultaneously focus on content for Break Media's premium advertisers, as well as original content for its owned sites.
Richman estimates that Break Media current attracts an average of 60 million uniques, half of which come from Break's own sites, and the other half which come from an advertising network of about 100 like-minded publishers.
Richman said the timing of the Creative Lab is due partly to the economy, and the fact that more advertisers and agencies will look to media partners to help them produce their own branded content.
During 2008, he said, Break Media produced about a dozen major online video campaigns for marketers, including a special "How To Produce a Super Bowl Commercial" tutorial tied to Doritos' user-generated Super Bowl ad campaign.
He said terms of the deals range from value-added arrangements tied to broader sponsorship deals to direct fee arrangements.
Ultimately, he said the goal is to develop the kind of sustainable, episodic programming that has been the signature of network TV, and which still puts that medium on the map with big marketers and agencies.
The closest thing he said Break Media has gotten to that has been its "What Would Kimbo Do?" series on Break.com, which features hilarious advice segments with mixed martial arts champion Kimbo Slice.
Now that may not seem like the kind of fare that would compete with the big broadcast networks, but Richman says those big networks aren't necessarily what they used to be, and that small, independent producers such as Break Media may eventually begin to compete more directly with them.
He cites NBC becoming more of a "schlock network" relying increasingly on reality fare and moving late night talk show host Jay Leno into prime-time.
"It's things like that that help us, and that's why we're creating the Creative Lab," he said.