Monthly Archives

August 2016

The Problem with Live on the Internet — Lack of Programming

By | Blog

Digital platforms like Facebook, YouTube,, and others have created amazing opportunities around live video. The problem is that up until now, the video we have been getting, and that has been succeeding, has largely centered around Personalities, Places and Performances.

  • Personality — Hey check me out, I’m your favorite celeb eating a waffle.
  • Places — Hey look at me, I’m coming to you live from the streets of London or the Olympics in Rio.
  • Performance — Hey let’s watch Arcade Fire.

Last Friday we produced Smosh Live, a 50-minute live show with an additional 30 minutes of pre and post show entertainment. The show was shot and broadcast in front of a live audience at 5pm PST and featured a large cast performing across multiple sets. In every way it was produced, written, and directed very much like an episode of Saturday Night Live.

Please check it out:

By any account, it could not have gone better and was truly beloved. Of course I am biased, but the masses aren’t:

  • They tuned in. In 3.5 days, Smosh Live has already been seen by over 1 million people, with over 1.4 million views & 22 million total viewed minutes.
  • They also liked it; they really liked it, to the tune of a 98% like ratio on YT, over 225,000 comments, and 140 million social impressions
  • They tuned in live with over 50,000 concurrent viewers for practically all 80 minutes, peaking at close to 58,000 viewers in the middle of the show. This drove over 4.3 million total live viewing minutes.

Smosh Live matters for a bunch of reasons, but arguably one of the biggest is that it felt like live television, just produced for digital. It wasn’t a personality talking into their mobile camera, someone streaming their vacation, or a famous musical performer – it was a produced program…and an ad sponsored program no less. (Thanks Wrigley’s 5 Gum!).

The advantage of doing actual programming is that it enabled us to build in more traditional sponsorship opportunities and ad pods. As we all try to build businesses around live, we need to remember that investment on the advertising side, at scale, is a function of predictable audiences and standardized formats. Thanks to the power of the Smosh brand and the fact that it was a produced program, we were able to deliver that. Smosh Live offered a large audience with built in commercial pods.

More than that, however, we think Smosh Live showcases the threat and opportunity that digital offers for live on television. Smosh Live looked like a traditional SNL episode, and for those long time SNL fans (me included) it brought a fresher take on what we’ve been seeing from SNL since perhaps the early days of digital shorts. It was current — and not meaning current for me — but current for the audiences who are not watching SNL anymore. With Smosh Live we believe we have created a format that we could repeat, that truly is an SNL type program for a younger generation. And we could do it without being on traditional television.

One of the great things about live programming is that it creates a level of engagement that is hard to find elsewhere. You have the opportunity for an audience to engage with each other and experience something together, in real time. Sure, the programming is available on VOD later, but the social experience of something of live programming is something not easily replicated. That is why we also produce another 5 weekly live shows that air on our ScreenJunkies network. Movie Fights is among the most popular:

These shows are highly produced news/talk programs, each running anywhere from 40–90 minutes, and are produced well enough to be on television. Let’s not forget that just 10 years ago, this was considered reasonable TV quality:

And that this aired a ESPN2 this morning:

The experience with those programs, and the fact that we now have a business model we can build around it, only increases our excitement around live as opportunity. We not only can see that the audience loves it, they actively tell us they want more.

-Keith Richman, President of Defy Media


SMOSH is Bringing Its Talents to the Stage–LIVE!

By | Blog

For the first time ever, SMOSH is bringing its talents to a live studio audience! On August 26th at the YouTube Space in Los Angeles, the cast will hold a fully produced, professionally rendered variety and sketch-comedy show inspired by Saturday Night Live.  In preparation for an event of this magnitude, SMOSH bolstered its creative team to include award-winning writers and live event producers. This 90-minute live event will feature a pre- and post-show, 4-5 scripted skits, a choreographed dance number, and a line-up of special guests. SMOSH Live is hosted in part by SMOSH’s own Joe Bereta and SMOSH Games’ Joshua Ovenshire—known to their millions of fans as Jovenshire—and will be streamed online as well as posted to YouTube. The performance will also be available on other distribution platforms following the event.

Exclusively sponsored by Wrigley’s youth-targeted 5 Gum, SMOSH Live will incorporate content relating to the brand’s popular “Truth or Dare” marketing campaign. Released once a year, specialty 5 Gum packs issue various challenges to their chewers through the gum stick foil wrappers—a perfect launching pad for the SMOSH cast.  Not only will the cast play their own interactive version of the game with the audience following the performance, but fans have also been invited to share their truth and dare challenges on social media with the hashtags #5truthordare and #vipsweepstakes to earn a chance to win tickets to the show.

SMOSH Live is an exciting next step for the ever-growing and evolving SMOSH brand. Reaching tens of millions of youth comedy fans around the world each month including their 39 million subscribers and counting, it remains a strong example of DEFY’s success with innovating new programming, formats and platforms as well as pushing the creative boundaries for digital media brands and creators.

Catch the action on Friday, August 26th at 5pm PST when we’ll be streaming live from the YouTube Space in LA and tune in to see the first ever SMOSH—Live!

Why it Really is an Honor to be Nominated

By | Blog

Emmy voting opens up this Monday, and for the first time there are digital companies nominated. We at Defy are honored that Honest Trailers, a popular program on our ScreenJunkies channel, received a nomination in the Outstanding Short Form Variety category. I wanted to personally congratulate the entire ScreenJunkies team on this accomplishment…while many people might not know it, there is a team of 30 people that work daily to make ScreenJunkies as awesome as it is.

But honestly, this is really exciting for the entire company of Defy and we wanted to thank the Television Academy for continuing to very progressively adapt to the times. They have enthusiastically embraced what we call the content democracy, a world in which quality content can succeed regardless of what platform it has originated within. They have done this from the beginning, embracing first programming from channels, then digital streaming services, and now digital platforms and brands themselves.

In fact, today more than 90 of the nominations in major categories are from cable channels and streaming services, and now 4 new categories have been formed to give quality digital content the recognition it deserves.

Here at Defy we often say “Same Game, New Rules.” We use this to refer to the fact that quality programming is still critical for success and you can’t win without it. But you also need to play by today’s rules. We used a new platform (YouTube) to build ScreenJunkies into the business and brand it is today. In that regard, it served effectively the same purpose for us that many past and presently nominated programs did for their channel brands.

Yes, House of Cards put Netflix on the map for original programming and Transparent ‘s success has been pivotal for Amazon Prime Video. But that is no different from how Mad Men enhanced the value of AMC, Sex and The City and Sopranos did for HBO, and the did Shield for FX….to name only a few.

When Honest Trailers launched four years ago, it was the first monthly series we produced for ScreenJunkies. Today, Honest Trailers is:

  • A weekly show with over 160 episodes under it’s belt
  • Has achieved over 1.1 billion views
  • Has received the praise of creators ranging from Anthony and Joe Russo toTim Miller to James Gunn

But more interestingly, Honest Trailers has enabled us to build up ScreenJunkies itself, which now has:

  • 24 weekly shows across it’s own website, mobile apps and YouTube. Among these are shows that have active participation from traditional media talent. Check out the recent episodes shot with Seth RogenKevin SmithElijah Wood, and Max Landis
  • A thriving paid subscription service, where one of the anchor shows is actually called “TV Fights” in which we debate…television
  • 5.6 million subscribers on YouTube, in addition to our web and mobile audiences

We believe this is just the beginning for ScreenJunkies, as well as for our other major programming brands Smosh, Clevver, AweMe, and Break, all of which we hope will be honored with nominations at some point in the future.

So, we offer up a huge thanks to the Television Academy for recognizing that even though the rules might be new, the game is the same, and that programs like Honest Trailers and those created by our peers deserve recognition. We also offer up encouragement for those who might not know Honest Trailers to take 5 minutes, or an hour as we know you will, to watch some of the ways we honestly approached some of your favorite films or TV shows:

Watch Honest Trailers

-Keith Richman, President of Defy Media

ScreenJunkies Central Opens Big at Comic Con!

By | Blog

For the first time ever, ScreenJunkies invaded San Diego with a dedicated live filming location—ScreenJunkies Central—bringing their iconic honest voice in movie and TV entertainment to Comic Con. For three full days, Comic Con attendees, and viewers who could stream the live content from home, were entertained by more than 15 exciting live broadcasts with star-studded episodes of Movie Fights! and other exciting content that unfolded right in front of them. Max Landis defeated Movie Fights champion Kevin Smith in a special All Star edition of the fan-favorite series; Andy Signore and Hal Rudnick held Q&A panels with celebrity guests such as Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Elijah Wood, and the cast of Family Guy; and a crew of nerds squared off in a March Madness-style bracket to heatedly debate which heroes would win in a showdown. True to form, ScreenJunkies Central was the choice destination for TV and film enthusiasts at Comic Con—and it didn’t disappoint.

Further proving the massive scale and passion of its audience, ScreenJunkies held an official SDCC panel on Friday night—and every inch of the 1,000-seat auditorium was full. The SJ crew hosted special guests Zack Stentz and Doug Benson for Movie Fights! Live, in addition to debuting never-before-seen episodes of the Emmy-nominated series Honest Trailers.

Congratulations to the entire ScreenJunkies team for pulling off an unforgettable first trip to Comic Con—see you again in 2017!

Best Practices for Mobile Video Ads

By | Acumen Insights

Collaborative research from Millward Brown, Tremor Video and IAB identified the most successful qualities of mobile video advertising. The research found consumers of all ages are sensitive to mobile ad clutter; 48 percent of those age 18-to-34 said they see too many ads on their smartphones, while 43 percent of those age 35-to-54 said the same. The device a mobile video is viewed on also affects reaction; while Millennials were equally likely to be impacted by smartphones and tablets, video ads were more effective on tablets when targeting consumers age 35-to-54. Regardless of age, tablet video can be an effective medium to drive consumers to take action; 43 percent were more likely to check out a brand after seeing a tablet ad, compared to 34 percent who were more likely to do the same after viewing the ad on a smartphone.

Ideal ad length varied by generation and screen; while 10-second videos maximized impact among Millennials, 30-second videos had the advantage with consumers 35-54. Yet long videos still might be appropriate for Millennials, because the study found trying to communicate too much in a few seconds lead to confusion and limited message takeaway.

Who is The Average Millennial?

By | Acumen Insights

An article from The Atlantic about a Bureau of Labor Statistics report says impressions of young people in the U.S. are warped. It says the word Millennial has become shorthand for “a college-educated young person living in a city,” but this definition isn’t grounded in reality; most people born between the early 1980s and late 1990s (a) didn’t graduate from college, (b) may not have a steady career, and (c) are not living in a city.

The article focused on the average 29-year-old in its analysis and found he has not graduated from college; he has completed “some college” but doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree. The metric differs by race and gender, with about one-third of whites having a four-year degree compared to around 20 percent for blacks and Hispanics. At age 29 one-third of women have a bachelor’s degree versus one-quarter of men, but men’s earnings are higher than women’s.

Median income at 29 years old is $35,000, but many are working in temporary positions. They work an average of seven jobs before age 29, with a third of these lasting less than six months. One might assume job-hopping and short-term employment is part of getting a career started, but Millennials at all education levels held an average of more than two jobs just between ages 25 and 28.

Gen Y’s In-Store Expectations

By | Acumen Insights

Research from Euclid in partnership with the Harris Poll reveals millennial consumers ages 18 to 34 want their shopping experiences to seamlessly integrate digital and in-store visits. In-store digital experiences are predicated on free Wi-Fi in stores, but it matter who visits the store because men and women differ in how they would use such a service.

Men seek convenience; 68 percent who own a smartphone or tablet say if a retailer offered guest Wi-Fi, they would be very or somewhat likely to use it for faster check-out. Men also say they’d be very or somewhat likely to use digital to access in-store services such as technical support, customer assistance, and order pick-up. Men more often than women also say they would be likely to use Wi-Fi to request help from a store associate, 53 percent vs. 42 percent. Women, on the other hand, want personalization. If a retailer offered guest Wi-Fi, 74 percent who own a smartphone or tablet would be very or somewhat likely to use digital for instant access to an exclusive gift, daily deal or coupon.

Pinterest Instead of Museums for Gen Y

By | Acumen Insights

Online marketplace Invaluable finds age is a major factor in how U.S. consumers discover and purchase art. For Millennials, social media channels such as Instagram and Pinterest are the preferred art discovery tool. Nearly half (44 percent) of Millennials age 18 to 24 and 34 percent of Millennials age 25 to 34 discover new art through social media; across all ages, 23 percent of Americans discover art through social media. An equal proportion discovers art through museums (21 percent) but fewer discover art at galleries (16 percent).

When it comes to purchasing art, Millennials say they would purchase art online (57 percent for age 18 to 24 and 52 percent for age 25 to 34), compared to only 19 percent of Baby Boomers. Roughly one in four Millennials age 18 to 24 prefer to purchase art through an online marketplace or website. And while findings reveal Millennials aren’t yet purchasing art in high volumes, they see long-term value in art; 42 percent of young Millennials and 37 percent of older Millennials believe art is a good investment, compared to roughly 32 percent of Baby Boomers.