Does FunnyOrDie’s YouTube Channel Signal A Shift In Focus?

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funny-or-die-logoIn a move that is somewhat unexpected, Funny Or Die has announced that they will be launching their own YouTube channel.  This comes after years of dismissing the idea that such a move was necessary.  In fact, to be honest, Funny Or Die started out as somewhat of a direct competitor to YouTube (emphasis on videos that are funny, obviously).  Go back and read this ArsTechnica article about the service’s launch in 2007, and what you’ll read certainly makes Funny Or Die sound like a new platform that is competing with YouTube.

There are a number of celebrities affiliated with Funny Or Die—Will Ferrell is one of the founders—and they supply some of the higher quality humor pieces.  But the site also encourages submissions from unknown content creators like you or me.  The COO, Mitch Galbraith, even says they’ve had some of their “discoveries” go on to hit it big, with one landing a deal at Sony and another getting a gig as a writer on Saturday Night Live.

But the new YouTube channel would seem to indicate a clear shift from discovery to more of a straight broadcasting focus.

I’m tempted to suggest that this move means that Funny Or Die is throwing in the towel on being a platform for user-generated content.  After all, a move to YouTube indicates that they don’t see YouTube as a competitor anymore (if they ever did so internally).

But it’s probably not as cut and dry as all that.  In fact, Galbraith seems to flat out say that they’re going to continue discovering new comedy talent through the site.

YouTube has really ballooned into something more than just a user-generated-content platform anyway.  And the advancements in their branded channel program as well as their advertising models makes them more like a distributor than a production house (to use a thin Hollywood simile).

There is an audience out there that Funny Or Die can’t reach without YouTube.  And leveraging YouTube’s advertising system gives them access to a potentially huge revenue stream—they already make $10 Million a year in advertising on their own; imagine how high that number could rise with the new YouTube channel.

So does this mean that Funny Or Die is changing their core philosophy or strategy?  Or does it mean more about YouTube than anything… that maybe YouTube has grown into such a colossus that it simply can’t be ignored by any content creators?  That’s an interesting debate, though it might be a bit of “chicken or the egg,” given that the truth is likely a little bit of both.

I’d be curious to know what you guys think.  I think it’s a bigger deal than Funny Or Die wants to let on.  There’s no danger to their brand or future success, and they’re not in any kind of crisis.  But it feels like an abandonment of one of their original missions.  Perhaps moving forward they will be less of a portal site and more of a content production house?


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