‘Modern Family’ Star Ty Burrell Launches Break Media’s ‘Speakeasy’ with Paul F. Tompkins

Break Media's new show is part of a larger push into original video and a renewed focus on courting advertisers

Break Media launched on Monday a new series, the Paul F. Tompkins-hosted “Speakeasy,” with an eye towards luring high-profile advertisers to its MadeMan site.

The show features Tompkins, a well-known comedian, having a friendly conversation with a celebrity guest in a dark bar setting. In the first episode, that guest is Ty Burrell, aka Phil from “Modern Family."

The show is “less about drinking and more about a talk show in that type of whiskey bar or upscale dark mahogany environment,” Mitch Rotter, SVP and General Manager of Editorial Properties at Break Media, told TheWrap. “Think about ‘Dinner for Five’ – a group of guys having dinner and an interesting conversation.”

Future guests for the show, which will air on MadeMan as well as its YouTube channel, include Weird Al Yankovic, Zack Galifiankis and Andy Richter.

The show will air biweekly, but if it receives the kind of response from the audience and advertisers Break hopes for, it may become a weekly show.

Advertisers in particular were the original focus, and Bacardi is a title sponsor of the first slate of episodes. 

Then Rotter came aboard and tried to define the site's content in the men's lifestyle section.

Rather than try to be GQ or Esquire, MadeMan, which has a larger web audience than either of those magazine’s websites, would target the “guy who lives in Omaha who makes $100,000.”

That means being smart and hip without being pretentious or snobbish, courting the guy who wants a great hamburger or barbecue rather than a meal at The French Laundry or Cut.

Break Media’s flagship site, Break.com, remains a hub for user-generated content targeted at the 18-34 demographic – fail videos, pranks and so forth.

But Break the company, which owns other properties like MadeMan and GameFront, is trying to take a larger bite out of the apple. It is joining the line of companies, such as Netflix and Yahoo, that are expanding production of original video content and seeking big-name brands to sponsor it.

Future shows include “All You Can Eat” for Break and “Duels.”

As AdAge's Michael Learmonth and Nat Ives noted Monday, despite the recent surge in online video production, luring advertising dollars has not been easy for everyone. 

The first four episodes of “Speakeasy,” all shot on the same day, cost $21,000. Rotter believes that in combining Break Media’s large audience – its suite of sites draws almost 30 million unique visitors a month worldwide – with original programming, it can convince advertisers to sign on.

“It behooves us to bring original production to advertisers and say we can make a video, we'll do our best to go viral, we have an audience here and a distribution platform,” Rotter said.