Programming Content Helps Set Defy Media Apart From Other Multichannel Networks

At NewFronts, MCN unveils new ad product

While most digital video networks presenting at this year's NewFronts will be explaining to ad buyers over the next two weeks just how different they are from traditional TV, Defy Media went in the opposite direction.

"We actually like comparing ourselves to TV," president Keith Richman said today at New York's SVA Theatre. "We think of ourselves as the prodigy of some weird marriage between television and digital."

That was most apparent when Richman showed off a massive schedule of some 72 different Defy Media programs geared toward millennials and Gen Zers.

Photo: Tim Baysinger

"Even in a world of on-demand programming, we believe there is an element of success that comes with actually programming your content," said Richman. It's just one of the ways Defy sets itself apart from other multichannel networks like Maker Studios, which presented Tuesday morning, and Fullscreen and Studio 71, which will hold their NewFronts presentations next week.

"We are committed to making everything you see on here," Richman said of the programs which are written, produced, directed and starring creators. Now one of the largest producers of digital content, Defy plans to roll out some 30 new shows this year, including the following:

Smosh

  • Summer Games 2: Camp, a follow-up to last year's monthlong competition-style series
  • These 5 People, a sketch series that chronicles all the very different, sometimes hilarious and very natural human reactions to some of life's biggest and most relatable events

Clevver

  • Beauty Trippin', a spinoff of Beauty Break in which hosts Joslyn Davis and Lily Marston head out of the studio to experience some of the trendiest (and oddest) beauty treatments and health-fitness activities
  • Diss Track, in which comedians and lyricists impersonate the biggest stars in music and entertainment, forcing them to finally bury the hatchet through mashup tracks and parody music videos

AweMe

  • A new version of Man at Arms with new host Danny Trejo
  • Pawsplay, a mashup of pets and pop culture in which a pet is adorned each week in a "cosplay" costume

"There's a lot of talk about making great content," said Andy Signore, head of content and creator for Defy's ScreenJunkies, which produces the popular Honest Trailers. In a shot at his competitors, he added, "They're not actually making great content."

With so much new content, Defy is adding a new way for brands to buy across its vast portfolio, an ad product called Z Blocks. It allows one brand to purchase in-video advertising across one of Defy's four verticals: gaming, comedy, entertainment and lifestyle. Essentially, a single brand will be the sole advertiser on a group of shows.

"Not only are we targeting Generation Z, but you are literally blocking anyone else's ability to buy for this audience," said CEO Matt Diamond. "We're only going to offer this on a weekly basis." That means there are only 52 spots available for each of the four verticals. Diamond said Amazon is participating in a Z Block buy.

Andy Tu, evp of marketing, touted the company's in-house research arm, Acumen Insights, which helps Defy's partners keep up with the constant changes across a growing number of platforms where Defy places programming. "It feels like Indiana Jones running in front of the boulder," said Tu, speaking of the rush to find the next big creator.