Here at Tubular Insights, we’ve covered a lot of digital video executives and professionals in our “Day in the Life” series. Experts from the Weather Channel to the BBC have weighed in on what their days are like working in the video industry, and how they managed to grow successful YouTube channels and develop killer video strategies. But now, one of the brands we featured in a previous “Day in the Life” post has perked our interest, as it’s standing at a very interesting crossroads in its day-to-day operations.
Jukin Media, a publisher known for its viral video licensing and distribution business model, has launched its own production studio and announced its intentions to delve into original content. What will that look like when the brand is so closely tied to user-generated content and popular YouTube channels like FailArmy and The Pet Collective?
Well, the viewing public just got a taste as Jukin has teamed up with Verizon’s go90 streaming service on a brand new Docuseries called ‘This Is Happening’. The user-generated documentaries will focus on some of the most talked about topics of our generation. Each episode will focus on one major event, and break it down from an eyewitness perspective using testimonies and original footage shot by those on he ground. You can see the trailer for the new series here:
We asked Jukin Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer Josh Entman to shed some light on this new original content initiative.
Jukin Media and Original Video Content
Tubular Insights: What are your primary responsibilities/goals each day, or your new responsibilities as they pertain to the original content production push?
Josh Entman: As Chief Creative Officer, I oversee all creative development for the company, which includes franchises on our owned-and-operated properties, branded entertainment and commercial productions, and original episodic series for TV and digital.
TI: Can you give a breakdown of the original content push and how this ties into your newly-announced production studio? We’re mostly curious about how these initiatives evolve/change or compliment your current business model of viral video licensing.
JE: If you look at the core function of our business from day one – to source and acquire user-generated video content – nothing has ever changed. We have been, and always will be, at the epicenter of social video content. But, what we’ve done really well, and perhaps what’s gotten lost in the external buzz around our popular viral videos, has been our ability to utilize UGC videos in the creation of longer-form programming.
We’ve always emphasized the importance of owning the entire lifecycle of a video, from discovery to distribution. Certainly I believe we’re the gold standard when it comes to those functions. But I’m just as bullish about our ability to craft original stories captured by everyday individuals. That’s what this is about.
TI: How did Jukin decide to move forward with its own production branch?
JE: Many people don’t know it, but we’ve been producing content for a long time. We’ve always looked at our original content/production business as being defined by the following: IP ownership, global distribution, audience segmentation, and conveying narrative through the lens of users.
We’re extracting user stories and packaging them in ways that resonate with audiences. Because of our core business, we have access to the most amazing library of source material and a direct relationship with every content owner we represent. I think that sets us apart and puts us in a unique position to challenge the status quo and offer a new perspective on how this content should be developed and programmed.
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TI: What statistics can you provide on how popular Jukin’s content is, and how that may have tied into the decision to make original content?
JE: As we’ve grown the business, we’ve done an amazing job at cultivating a global community around user-generated video. With over 70 million fans and 2 billion views per month, it’s a natural progression of the entertainment we provide across social media every day. Just as our audience has evolved, so has our desire to offer them premium content experiences.
We’re not going to suddenly change and start investing massive amounts of money into costly productions without a return. It’s not who we are. We invest in people to make this happen. Without them, I’m just drawing up blank ideas on a whiteboard.
User-based storytelling is what drives global communication. It’s no longer an option, but a necessity to operate and connect amongst your peers. It’s what has rapidly made Snapchat and Instagram and Facebook such a large part of the video ecosystem. And it’s probably why they all decided to call their version of the product, Stories.
I‘m confident in our position and where we sit in the larger conversation. We are UGC. We live and breathe it every single day, and have done so for the last 7 years. That cannot be overstated. We know it. We study it. We absorb it. There are still no other companies packaging short-form into longer form in a meaningful way. That’s a gap in the market and we’re going after it.
TI: What does the development process look like for Jukin’s new originals?
JE: Like so many other development teams, we are swimming in a sea of ideas that populate our board. But a key differentiator for us is the content acquisition machine that powers Jukin’s backend. The videos that come through our door every day provide some of the greatest source material imaginable. And we’re constantly sifting through them for new talent discovery, creative direction, and ingenuity that allows the overarching concepts to be uniquely Jukin.
There’s a notion that so much content is being built strictly for millennials. I don’t necessarily think that’s the case. I like to think we are unequivocally dedicated to mobile-first audiences and platform efficiencies in our development. So no matter where we pitch in the buyer ecosystem — TV or digital — each project is focused and optimized for consumption patterns and user behavior.
TI: What’s your biggest challenge as you expand Jukin’s original content initiatives?
JE: Converting a mindset. Most people still view us as a clips business or the “viral video guys.” It’s a badge of honor certainly, but a misrepresentation of where we are today, and where we believe this is going.
While there’s an undeniable clip element to our business, we don’t view these as merely clips. And neither should anyone else. These videos are truly the building blocks of broader storytelling; a raw, unfiltered representation of the amazing moments captured by people just like you and I. It’s our determination to dig deeper and re-imagine what longer-form, user-based entertainment looks like across all of these platforms.
TI: Why do you think Jukin will be successful with original content?
JE: I think we’ve already seen a great deal of success, and now we’re simply investing more resources behind it. We’ve already developed and sold seven series, and produced well over 200 episodes of linear and digital programming.
Having said that, no one can guarantee success in this market. It’s a crowded room with tons of companies vying for buyers’ attention. What I like about us, and what I think is a crucial differentiator when looking at our contemporaries, is that we own and control all of the content we acquire. We’re not an MCN. We’re not a group of talent managers. We’re not a traditional publisher or production company. We’re in the IP business. And that makes our studio model more legitimized than most of the folks out there who are launching these divisions left and right.
Without question, I’ll always bet on our ability. It comes with the job and title. But I’m proud of how we’ve approached and attacked the different sectors of our business. We’re calculated, we’re thoughtful, and we’re rigorous in our intent. Original content is no different. I’m more excited at our ability to test these methods and offer up new experiences, to always address the ‘Why Jukin?’ It’s a challenge that we accept and will continue to attack day in and day out.