Barry Blumberg is the evp of Alloy Digital as well as the president of Smosh, the biggest YouTube channel in terms of subscribers. The exec has a long history in animation, previously serving as president, Walt Disney Television Animation and evp of Harvey Entertainment.
In the past year or so, Blumberg has helped broaden the audience for Smosh while helping steward the launch of Shut Up Cartoons, one of the more successful funded YouTube channels; the network just exceeded 1 million subscribers and 100 million views. He chatted with Adweek’s Videowatch about the state of YouTube’s channel partnerships, the quiet movement among creators to push away from the Google-owned video platform, and the challenges of programming 24/7 on an ever growing number of social channels.
Adweek: So what's the latest on Shut Up Cartoons?
Blumberg: Well, we have Teleporting Fat Guy coming back for season two. We have Smosh Babies, which is about the Smosh guys toddlers in day care. Pubertina is also back for a seocnd season. Overall, our objective with all of our channels is to build a brand around Smosh that is bigger than two guys making videos and doesn’t exist exclusively on YouTube.
So ShutUp is really part of the Smosh story? I guess I thought of it as a brand new brand.
Well, we’ve launched a second Smosh channel, with two shows a week. And the Smosh guys [creators/performers Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla] are in only one. In 2013 our goal has been to increase the output and broaden its appeal under the Smosh umbrella. We now have12 programs a week, 10 of which don't feature the Smosh guys. We’ve also put a big emphasis on the Smosh website.
Shut Up was one of the new channels rolled out as part of the funded YouTube effort.
But it was associated with Smosh. Most of that audience knows about it via Smosh. It’s still associated with the brand. A lot of people understand that it's in our universe.
You mentioned that you want to emphasize Smosh.com. Does that mean you want to deemphasize YouTube?
We’ve been at this for seven-plus years. And we’ve always had a website. It’s been part of our Web strategy to have a balance … what we did from the beginning. That gives us a more in depth, instant relationship with our audience on our website, as well as on social platforms: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr.
Do you think you’re going to see lots of other companies follow suit, and try and move more of their business off YouTube?
I bet most folks are. It allows us to to create some revenue balance, and a brand that is not one-dimensional.
What are some new Web video programming lessons that you might be able to share?
I think we’re employing traditional wisdom. Video that you put on YouTube is different than Facebook than a blog than Tumblr. Each platform has its own personality, benefits.
How hard is that to manage? Because at some point, there are seemingly an endless number of outlets.
We have a phenomenal edit team and social team. We really want to be where the youth of today are and that’s all these places. And that means putting out 50 pieces of content a day in some cases. You might have 10 posts on Facebook, 30 tweets, a few posts to Tumblr and Pinterest.
What about specifically programming video for this audience?
It varies. For Smosh main, it’s one video a week, same time, same day. For Smosh games, it’s 12 shows a week. For Shut Up Cartoons, it’s more like TV, it’s series oriented. The economics and financing and production are different. You might have a 10-episode run of one series and a 15-episode run of another. But for Smosh Games, you’re on all year.
Can you get away with being ‘off season’ like in the TV world?
Online audiences tend to be a little more demanding. If you are out of their consciousness, it's hard to get them back.
What do you make of this talk that companies like Maker Studios may break away and launch their own YouTube alternatives?
It’s not something we’re looking at. We’re not being pitched by a secret YouTube competitor.
How real is this pushback against YouTube in the industry?
There is no pushback against anybody. We’ve always felt the need to be broad. As brand builders and business people it’s in our best interest—that doesn't only exist with one partner.
Are you feeling any impact sales wise from the NewFronts?
It’s very early. But we’ve had an incredibly positive response. We’ve got advertisers and partners deep into conversations. The NewFronts as an event are gaining a great deal of credibility.
There’s been talk about Smosh coming to TV.
We’d look at it where it’s appropriate. Some programs make more sense as they fit more into a 22-minute format. We are certainly open to those conversations. We have a lot of stuff in the works, nothing to announce