Crackle Insists It Can Thrive Even After Losing Jerry Seinfeld and Its Signature Show

GM says there's more than just Comedians in Cars

Tuesday seemed to be a bleak day for Crackle, as Jerry Seinfeld—creator and host of the streaming service's signature series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee—announced that he's moving his show to Netflix after signing a deal with the streaming rival. Seinfeld will produce Comedians in Cars for Netflix (and move all nine prior seasons of the show there as well) and film two new stand-up comedy specials for the streaming service as part of the $100 million agreement.

Crackle faces a future without its most well-known series—in which Seinfeld chats and drives around with his favorite comedians—and online speculation that the streamer might not be able to continue without it. Crackle general manager Eric Berger allayed those fears in his first comments since the Netflix deal was announced. He told Adweek that Crackle will continue to survive and thrive without the show.

"Although we are incredibly grateful for our time working with Jerry and proud of the Emmy nominations the show has garnered, we have built up a slate of original series with top talent that we are incredibly proud of," Berger told Adweek, referring to The Art of More (starring Dennis Quaid), StartUp (starring Martin Freeman), SuperMansion (executive produced by and starring Bryan Cranston) and Snatch (the drama, which stars Rupert Grint and is based on the 2000 Guy Ritchie film, debuts March 16). "We have a development slate that we feel can rival any ad-supported network."

Berger echoed those comments during a lengthy interview with Adweek just a few days before the Netflix news was announced. When asked at the time about the possibility of Seinfeld taking Comedians in Cars elsewhere, Berger said, "We love the show, and it has been a signature for Crackle, but I think the great part is, it's a portfolio now. It's not like a few years ago, where we didn't have that portfolio of all the slate of dramas and the comedies that we have. We're working with a lot of big talent show that we never did before. And we view all of that in a big portfolio."

Crackle, which has an average monthly U.S. audience of 18 million, said that while Comedians in Cars had long been the top performing title on the site, it was surpassed by StartUp, which premiered in September. And the service's original film Mad Families, which stars Charlie Sheen and premiered last week, is also outperforming the current season of Comedians. So while Seinfeld's show remains Crackle's best-known title, it's no longer its most popular one.

Here's the rest of Adweek's conversation with Berger, who laid out Crackle's vision for 2017—one that no longer includes Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee:

The streaming world has changed so much in the past year. What is Crackle doing to carve out its own niche?

The first thing is, we're really focused on our consumer and our platforms. We have more data and direct contact with customers than ever before, and game consoles are a big piece of that. So really understanding that our market is about mature millennials who are gamers and stream to relax, and use other connected TV [devices] in the living room as well. We are making sure that our content really aligns with that audience more than ever before. The second thing is, as one of the only services that's focused purely on advertising, we want to make sure that we have the best advertising experience possible, so that consumers continue to use the service when there are plenty of other choice that are not ad supported in the marketplace.

How are you doing that?