Nine months after Disney acquired Maker Studios for nearly $1 billion, the online giant is busily burrowing into most corners of the Mouse House, teaching media creators how to go short, said Ynon Kreiz, the CEO of Maker Studios at today’s Digital Entertainment World.
“It’s not like (you can say), ‘Let’s make TV content and (translate) it'” for the Internet, Kreiz said. “It’s a new medium. We are now the center of expertise for this domain for the Walt Disney company.”
Maker certainly has built street cred around creating short-form video on YouTube and, increasingly, other platforms. The multi-channel network represents between 55,000 to 60,000 independent creators in more than 100 countries.
And the views of those videos are growing at stunning rates. Kreiz said when Disney and Maker first began discussing a deal, Maker videos were seen 4 billion times a month. By the time the deal closed in May, that number was up to 5.5 billion views a month. Now, it’s doubled, to 11 billion views a month.
The growth is partly organic, as creators feed content to their fans old and new; partly the addition of about 100 new creators a day to the network; and partly the increasing impact of the Disney brands and relationship, though Kreiz said those huge brands won’t really be felt until next year.
Though Maker was built on an ad-supported business on YouTube, Kreiz also detailed a range of new distribution opportunities that the company is pursuing, beginning with native video players on Facebook and Twitter.
“We’ve been always focused on making great content that people want to watch,” Kreiz said. “In that sense, we’re agnostic. We want to reach people wherever they are. It’s not a device, it’s not a distribution model. People want to watch great content.”
Maker also has pushed into branded entertainment, with a offering called Maker Exchange that allows advertisers to post assets and see what kinds of ads that creators can come up with. The ads are then priced and posted.
“You don’t need to spend half a million dollars to make big advertising product,” Kreiz said, after showing a series of brief and funny Burger King spots for a revived product.
Maker is the only online company to be part of the highly anticipated Sling TV Internet-based product that Dish launched this week after a great deal of attention. Other companies included in the package of channels include TBS, TNT, AMC and Disney’s ESPN, and may transform the way at least a portion of Americans get high-quality video content, without having a traditional pay-TV bundle of programming and all that comes with it.
“As a new development, this is really important,” Kreiz said. “There’s no intermediary. Based on the initial reaction, it looks like it’s going to be an interesting offer.”