Gaming-centric programmer Machinima is one of the most popular and successful online video sites ever and that’s due in part to a strong programming point of view.
The programmer surpassed one billion views per month for the first time late last year and continues to grow past that into 2012, with 1.3 billion views in January. It’s also one of the most popular channels on YouTube, and has seen strong growth in key entertainment ad categories of video games, theatrical releases and tune-in campaigns from cable networks. Advertisers include video games such as Call of Duty Elite, Electronic Arts: Star Wars Old Republic; movies like Paramount’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Sony Pictures’ Chronicle, and Universal Studios’ Contraband; and AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and the History Channel’s “Top Shot.”
The network targets gamers and the gamer lifestyle. That’s a broad swath given that consumers spent around $16 billion in 2011 on gaming content, said NPD Group.
Even so, what can others learn from Machinima’s success? For starters, Machinima was in the right place at the right time. Machinima launched in early 2005 but really started to gain speed in the last few years as games like Halo and Modern Warfare became more popular. Now, Machinima reaches 149 million unique viewers around the globe watching its videos across multiple devices.
“It’s a bit like when the hip-hop lifestyle emerged but then it became more global and interesting to others. It’s kind of a cultural thing in some ways,” said Allen DeBevoise, Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Machinima
Being device agnostic has helped too, DeBevoise said. Machinima is available online, as well as across mobile phones and tablets, gaming consoles, over-the-top devices like Roku and Boxee, and Samsung TVs, with more connected TVs to come.
But a clear programming strategy is also vital. Rather than go wider, the key is to deepen the relationship with viewers, DeBevoise said. That’s why Machinima looks at its audience more specifically than just young males. Besides, there are plenty of programmers that serve that demo, such as History, Spike and Break, so the key is to reach a certain portion of the demo. “Look at Halo as an example and Halo is both scientific fiction, mythology and action. It’s about extraordinary people and it also has to have enough adrenaline,” he said. When Machinima develops originals like “RCVR,” it looks to tap into those creative elements.
On average, viewers spend over 65 minutes per month with Machinima programming.
“It’s important to be focused,” DeBevoise said.