Endemol Beyond Debuts At NewFronts, With Michelle Phan Front And Center

New to the NewFronts, the weirdly named Endemol Beyond entered with a splash, touting its new Michelle Phan-backed Icon channel, introducing another suite of offerings for boy/sports viewers called Smasher and touting two new projects for narcissists everywhere, fronted by pop performer Pitbull.

It’s also creating a channel that’s “all about pop culture,” according to Will Keenan, president of Endemol Beyond USA, who was no shrinking violet as the host of the NewFront event Thursday. The new Looksy will feature “Bad Girl,” a prank series starring Brittany Furlan and “True Internet Tales” produced by E!-famous Michael Lynn  which will look at the people and stories behind some famous viral videos and memes. And it will feature a whole lot of Hollywood "news."

Smasher will feature a new batch of videos from perpetual-kid Andy Milonakis in “Milonakis 2. 0,” “Legends of Gaming,” a U.S version of a U.K. show in which star-gamers face off against regular-guy challengers, and “Rule’m Sports” starring YouTube pranker Jesse Wellens, in which star athletes compete against digital well-knowns at weird sporting “events.”

Pitbull and Endemol will create “Master Class,” showing experts at everything (welding to wilderness survival) and “Pitbull Presents,” which introduces the fabulous people in his life--chef, audio engineer, b-boy dancer--to decidedly unfabulous people like ourselves.

“We are for the Internet generation,” Phan said in an upbeat way at the presentation Thursday, as if, possibly, that was news after a couple weeks of steady millennials-rule! pronouncements at other NewFronts.

Endemol Beyond is jumping into the content creation business in a big way, and Keenan hinted at syndication deals to come. In fact, its NewFront presentation seemed more television-ish than the rougher-around-the-edges way of other NewFront presentations. I have to say, the presentation seems to have missed the scruffy Us Against the World vibe.

No doubt that’s because Endemol Beyond is partly owned by 21st Century Fox’s Shine Group (read: Elizabeth Murdoch) and has a long string of television hits, mostly in the reality realm way back to the original Dutch-owned Endemol. 

The new ownership has plunked down a reported $40 million to grow Endemol Beyond into themed areas through partnerships like the one with Phan. The Thursday event was a premiere party for Endemol Beyond more than a NewFront presentation of new content offerings, which, I guess, was the whole idea,

VIEWABILITY REARS ITS UGLY HEAD:  According to a new report, Google says only about 54% of all video ads are viewable, another ugly stat lofted just as the broadcast networks prepare to push their upfront buys in earnest.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s CMO blog, 91% of YouTube’s ads fit the industry’s viewable standard, which can be explained by the fact that YouTube videos are a destination in themselves. (Those ads weren’t counted in the batch that make up the 54% stat, by the way.) Many other video ads play within a page, to the side, at the bottom or wherever. And many of them, as this data suggests, are a big waste.

“So why aren’t they being seen?” the blogs asks, and answers: "Usually because they’re playing in the background while users look at something else, Google said. Of non-viewable ads analyzed by the company, 76% were in a background tab or never on-screen at all, while the remaining 24% were scrolled off-screen or abandoned in fewer than two seconds.”

Been there. Done that.
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