All Posts By

Carol Gillard

Clevver’s Erin Robinson Shares a Personal Story to Send an Important Message to Women

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Premiering Monday, May 15th in support of National Women’s Health Week, It Got Real follows Clevver executive producer and host Erin Robinson on her personal journey as she struggles with fibroid tumors. With an all-female production crew, Erin takes the audience behind the scenes of her life—into her home, doctors’ visits, and surgery, in hopes of encouraging an open dialog with Clevver’s young audience on women’s health issues. As an official ambassador for National Women’s Health week, Erin hopes to inspire young women across the country to make their health a priority.

Want TV Like Transparency? Buy Digital Like TV

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Want TV Like Transparency? Buy Digital Like TV

Over the past few years, advertisers have shifted meaningful spends over to online video, and to YouTube in particular. To some extent, they have little choice in the matter — if you are trying to reach certain audiences, you need to be where they spend their time.

This transition was going fairly smoothly until a few weeks ago when a leading YouTuber, PewDiePie, made anti-Semitic remarks on his 54 million subscriber YouTube channel. This led to a chain of events wherein a number of corporate UK brands pulled their ads from YouTube because those ads were being shown next to terrorist and hate videos. That was soon followed by major US advertisers — AT&T, Verizon, GM, Johnson and Johnson, among others — who said they were pulling their Google display and YouTube buys because Google isn’t doing enough to prevent brands from appearing next to offensive content. Now advertisers are increasingly struggling to reconcile a need to be on the world’s largest video platform in front of a difficult to find audience and a need to protect their own brand integrity.

A few months ago, I wrote a piece telling digital creators that if they wanted TV ad dollars, they should behave more like TV. Today, I find myself telling media buyers that if you want total transparency on where your ads run, you need to buy digital more like you buy TV.

YouTube is a self-described video platform, and they are the largest in the world by every measure. They rely on a global set of talented creators to populate their platform with a wide range of programming. Over the past decade, they have created many automated mechanisms through which advertisers can connect with that programming. With the smartest engineers in the world solving the problem, those will only improve over time. They also constructed Google Preferred, which allows advertisers to serve their ads in front of the top 5% of popular YouTube channels. Both of these programs do in fact provide base levels of protection for advertisers, but as we have seen recently, only go so far. Brands are still finding themselves running in front of offensive programming, and PewDiePie was a channel within Google Preferred. With the platform delivering over 5 billion views per day, it really is hard for YouTube itself to make any guarantees.

Having said that, it is actually fairly straightforward for advertisers to run brand safe campaigns on YouTube — simply buy the programming directly from publishers and channels, just like on television. In the traditional world, an advertiser would not necessarily buy “Comcast” at scale and cross their fingers, hoping their ads actually run on Modern Family. Similarly, buying the YouTube platform blindly is not the most effective way to associate with the exact programming you desire.

Most premium content providers — like BuzzFeed, NBCU, Viacom, Vevo, and my company Defy Media — all have sales forces tasked with selling everything from standard media to custom integrations. We all control our owned and operated inventory on YouTube and can be completely transparent about where ads run. We can specify channels, programs, and even specific videos, and as a result can offer protections that even YouTube can’t within its own platform on our content.

Most importantly, we all offer professionally produced programming that every day attracts millions of viewers in target demographics.

These are the audiences that advertisers can’t access as easily on television because they are spending increasing amounts of time on digital outlets.

Many of the headlines paint a picture that the YouTube fallout is a potential boon for television in the current upfront season. My word of caution to anyone who is considering that is that you should explore the alternatives before returning to that safe harbor. You’re going to overspend to try and hit an audience that is watching less and less television. I’ve spent the better part of the last year talking to marketers about three core challenges – How to reach young people, how to do it through video, and how to do it on the platforms where they live their lives. Moving dollars to television won’t get you any closer to understanding those same three challenges.

There is inappropriate programming on all media platforms. Over the course of the last century, agencies and advertisers have learned how to work with them in order to achieve their marketing objectives, without worrying about brand safety. Hopefully, this is the moment they can truly lean into doing so on YouTube as well.

 

-Keith Richman, President of Defy Media

 

 

DEFY Media Launches Biggest Programming Expansion To Date

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As promised, DEFY is making good on our NewFront commitment to continue delivering fresh and meaningful content to our millions of viewers. This time it’s our biggest expansion yet: adding to an existing lineup of over 75 regularly produced programs across our brands, 17 new series will premiere this fall, including a rollout of 11 new SMOSH series throughout October (deemed SMOSHTOBER).

A few of our newest series include:

SMOSH

The Big What If: A sketch comedy show that explores the hilarious parallel universes and alternate realities surrounding a single subject. Change one variable and everything could be different: what if Donald Trump was your GPS navigator, or what if Star Wars was shot entirely on Snapchat?

The Show with No Name: Fan-service at it’s best. Every long-form episode features a rotating set of three hosts from SMOSH, Smosh Games, and a pool of special guests, in which SMOSH chooses their favorite fan art of the week and answers user submitted questions from Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Smosh Animated: Classic SMOSH routines and soundbites are brought to life via multiple styles of animation, with Chris Pratt (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) featured in the premiere episode.

Smosh Lab: Learning…on accident. SMOSH super-talent Shayne Topp teams up with an actual scientist to do some crazy science experiments. Every episode features a new experiment, awesome visuals, and a big friggin’ mess.

MariCraft Outlaster: A reality-style series parodying Survivor, this show leverages the popularity of MariCraft with confessional interviews and challenges.

Reality Shift: A virtual-reality spin on gameplay videos in which SMOSH Games talent are in a VR game in real-time, while on-camera viewers comment on the action. The series will feature games on the HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and other VR platforms.

Press Start!: Each week, the SMOSH Games crew takes on an episodic storyline-based game to play through as much as possible, or create their own storylines in open-world, multiplayer sandbox games like Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto. At the end of each episode, fans get the option to “vote” on whether they want to continue this story or request a new game.

Game Bang 2.0: Game Bang is upping the ante by turning into a monthly miniseries where points matter more than anything, scores carry over into each episode, and it all culminates into a LIVE punishment at the end of each month.

SMOSH Games Animated: The popular series is now released weekly, with top creators and animators coming onboard to animate classic moments from the SMOSH Games video universe.

Cell Outs: A new adventure-based format of the mobile gaming series rolls out this month. After getting the feel for a game in a strict gameplay setting at the top of every episode, the SMOSH Games crew are whisked to a secret location they don’t know and thrust into a new and exciting adventure that is thematically aligned with the game that they just played.

Board AF: Tabletop gaming is a staple in any gamer’s life and growing in mainstream popularity again. In this show the cast plays every popular board & card game on the market, from Cards Against Humanity to Monopoly–even Dungeons & Dragons.

CLEVVER

Get Jacked!: A workout series hosted by high-energy trainer Jarrett Sleeper, in which he puts Clevver hostesses through offbeat, grueling exercise routines inspired by hot topics and celebrities.

After Friday: A long-form recap talk show that features Clevver hostesses catching up on the week’s most talked-about topics, from celebrity drama to style trends.

SCREENJUNKIES

Character Roasts: From the creators of Honest Trailers, a new series in which comedians roast their favorite pop-culture characters. First up? Captain America.

Read more about our new programming additions in Variety.

AWE me’s Man at Arms Celebrates its 100th Episode!

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Still on fire. Today marks the 100th episode of Man at Arms, the captivating AWE me series in which resident blacksmiths at Baltimore Knife & Sword build real-life versions of iconic pop-culture movie, television and video game props to create never-before-seen weapons. Using scorching furnaces, pounding power hammers, and high-speed belt grinders, these blacksmiths create one-of-a-kind weapons—and then of course test them.

In this special episode, the blacksmiths create the menacing Warhammer 40K Chainsword–a sword with powered teeth that, similar to a chainsaw’s, run along a single edged blade.

Averaging more than 1.5MM views per episode, Man at Arms continually impresses and amazes passionate pop-culture fans–and this episode does not disappoint. Be sure to check out the action yourself to see how the team made it happen.

DEFY Brands Earn 5 Streamy Award Nominations

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We’re so proud that some of our most popular brands and series from SMOSH, SMOSH Games, Clevver, ScreenJunkies, and Prank It FWD have earned a combined five nominations for the 2016 Streamy Awards! The recognition that our creators and brands are receiving is incredibly exciting and much-deserved. We are continuously expanding our programming offerings for these brands, and next year will be going even bigger with more great programming for millions of viewers. Check out DEFY’s contenders below and see why all are worthy of the prestigious award in their respective categories:

2016 Streamy Award Nominees—DEFY Media

Honest Trailers (Writing): No movie or TV show is safe. With its epic voice and biting wit, our Emmy-nominated series keeps it honest and pokes holes and fun at your favorite and least favorite movies and television shows. Watch an episode.

Clevver (News & Culture): A dominant brand of entertainment coverage with a unique spin on entertainment, beauty, and style content, each Clevver channel captures the tone, topics, and relatable talent that young millennial females crave throughout their day. With series that cover up-to-the-minute breaking celebrity news, panel debates, and a hilarious take on beauty trends, Clevver reflects the vast intersection of Internet and pop culture. Watch an episode.

SMOSH Games (Gaming): As the gaming channel expansion of leading digital comedy brand SMOSH, SMOSH Games is driven by comedic personalities and all the fun surrounding gaming culture itself. With a variety of weekly series and fresh daily content, the Smosh Games crew offers up high-octane gaming content that, win or lose, always results in fun and laughter. Watch an episode.

“Prank It FWD” (Social Good Campaign): Prank It FWD pulls positive and uplifting pranks to help people who have faced immense challenges in their lives. Everyone from Jennifer Lawrence to Michelle Obama has joined the global PIF cause to spread the message of positivity. Watch an episode.

“Put It In My Mouth” (Food): Tastebuds go for a ride in Put it in My Mouth—a fun food show hosted by the SMOSH crew’s pickiest eater— Noah Grossman. In each episode Noah eats all kinds of different foods that he would never normally eat unless challenged. This bi-weekly series features special guests who join Noah in trying new things, taking chances, and avoiding spitting food into the Bucket of Shame. Watch an episode.

The Problem with Live on the Internet — Lack of Programming

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Digital platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Live.ly, 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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGQM80YrT1A

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVBpzd8-iA4&list=PLFWHlH4koGZDABLg4i81lswPJPHqLdKj7&index=1

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:

https://youtu.be/owP315n7pQ0?t=1m8s

And that this aired a ESPN2 this morning:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMnZMU7xySU

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!

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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

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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!

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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!

ScreenJunkies is LIVE at Comic Con!

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We’re so excited to announce that for the first time ever, ScreenJunkies will be LIVE at Comic Con. Starting Thursday, July 21 at 4:30pm PST, the ScreenJunkies team will be streaming upwards of 15 live events to ScreenJunkies.com, YouTube, and Facebook from ScreenJunkies Central at Moonshine Flats. Over the next three days, SJ will bring all of its shows and talent to produce almost 20 pieces of content with amazing talent like Danny McBride, Kevin Smith, and Elijah Wood stopping by.

And if ScreenJunkies live isn’t enough, anyone who is at Comic Con should stop by the SJ official SDCC panel on Friday night at 9:15PM. There will be special guests like Max Landis, Doug Benson, Zack Stentz, and other surprise friends joining in for Movie Fights Live. The SJ crew will also show some never before seen episodes of the Emmy-nominated series Honest Trailers.

Make sure to check out all the live episodes on ScreenJunkies.com or YouTube.