A few weeks ago, we took a look at Jash, the YouTube comedy network headlined by big name talent, including Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Reggie Watts and others. In our post, we pointed out that it’s difficult for even big comics to engage their fan bases on YouTube without producing for the platform—and directly engaging with its fans—consistently.
In that analysis, we noted that folks like Silverman and Watts don’t always crank out million plus view-videos. And that Jash, live only since March, had yet to become the Machinima of comedy.
Kellison and Meyer felt that many of the view numbers we’d selected were taken out of context (and to be fair, we initially whiffed on Jash’s total view number). Meyer and Kellison’s argument? Jash is a quality over quantity play. And Jash is just one brand, one single channel across a growing YouTube hub that is in their minds, highly successful. Plus, Jash isn’t a year old, and probably shouldn't’t be compared to a YouTube star like Ray William Johnson.
We still don’t necessarily agree on everything, but the broader point the Jash guys are trying to make—that a selection of random view numbers isn’t probably the greatest way to evaluate a YouTube channel. The problem is, nobody seems to have a better idea in the press or ad world.
Regardless, here’s an excerpt of our conversation:
Adweek: So how is Jash actually doing?
Kellison. When we launched, we know we weren't’t going to chase after this in a traditional way. We started a video podcasting group in January and Jash in March. And we had a small group of us doing this.
Meyer: It’s definitely been a learning experience. One of the struggles we do have is, our artists are doing a lot of different things. We are trying to figure out ‘how do you build an audience on YouTube? You have artist who produce videos every single week for five six years now. Our guys don’t always have the bandwidth. Michael Cera is aiming to do about four things a year for the channel. We’re not really trying to crank out the numbers. Sometimes, it’s as inspiration strikes.
I used to work at Maker Studios. The name of the game on YouTube is consistency. But as we’ve rolled out channels and laid them over each other, about one a month, we’ve started to get a level of level of consistency.
What was the original vision?
Kellison: When YouTube came to us and said, create a comedy channel, they said, “you’ll have 100 percent autonomy. You'll never get a note from us and you’ll own this.' So we can do whatever we want. And the word has spread among comedians and agents. Everybody came to us and started showing us work. We’ve got almost a bohemian hippy approach to this that is very inclusive.
Is it hard to get established comedy talent to ‘learn’ YouTube?
Kellison: When we made deals with artists, we didn’t give them any time or financial committments. Our agent almost quit. We had to deliver Google 22 plus hours. We ended up with 140. We couldn’t keep up with the talent.
Meyer: You see all these celebrity YouTube channels where they are just lending their name. It’s frustrating. These guys [the Jash comics] really want to be here.
It is a very nuanced medium, right?
Meyer: There is such a barrier to entry to even understanding YouTube. It’s like Twitter. Our audience is older. They aren't necessarily going to understand that they have to have a YouTube account, and then subscribe, and come back. That may be a challenge.
What would you like to see happen when it comes to metrics? Any better ideas?
Meyer: We’ve been careful about not saying "Hey if you think you're funny, have a channel." And then we have like 50,000 fan channels….and when I see numbers like 300,000 subscribers, I don’t know what that means, I don’t even know that YouTube does.
Really? Because there are those that swear subscribers are the surest sign of a channels success.
Kellison: Subscribers numbers are the most deceiving. It’s like an email list or following people on Twitter. It's a light engagement. Viewership should be relative to our subscriber base
Meyer: I guess it depends on how you measure success. There are some numbers the ad business looks at. And we have plenty of videos over a million views. We have over 900,000 subscribers [across the Jash network of channels]. We just don't call everything Jash. [Per Kellison, the overall Jash network has 800,000 subscribers and over 40 million views].
But you don't want to partner with a ton of channels and roll up big numbers to impress advertisers and Wall Street, like say Machinima?
Kellison: We've been very conscious decision not to go that route, the 'let’s sign everybody out there' move.
Meyer: We’re proving to be sustainable. I think our numbers our very solid for what we set out to do. Our end game isn’t we’re looking to sell ourselves here. We want to build a great content network.