Stealth video streaming startup out of France aims to titillate youth audiences
Long-rumored startup Blackpills has emerged from stealth, 4 months after its initial January release target, with a new flashy mobile streaming app filled with 50 shows-worth of edgy, titillating short-form syndicated and original programming. What sets blackpills apart at launch is the foreign-flare and loose film noir tone its series offers — a fresh departure from the sexually-safe formats for youth in the US. With cinematic quality comparable to the big screen and big Hollywood names like Luc Besson (“Lucy”) and “Fifty Shades Darker” actor Eric Johnson attached, Blackpills has a chance to break through.
“We designed Blackpills Media to provide creatives the resources and a new sort of freedom to authentically express themselves.” said Patrick Holzman, co-founder of Blackpills. “We’ve created this through our edgy content, fast production time, and native mobile format that attracts a large range of international high-quality talent.”
But high quality production comes at a cost, and according to sources who were part of Blackpills initial content call, the French startup backed by French venture capitalist Xavier Niel, had $50 million to spend on 10–12 episode orders up to 10 minutes in length. Today, Blackpills launches with 12 original shows in total and it has greenlit, or licensed, upwards of 50 since ideating the company in 2016. It’s a pretty penny to spend at a time when streaming platforms are a dime a dozen and audience attention is spread thin.
“The Blackpills app is a true reflection on how millennials want to watch content. We’re empowering our viewers to feel and discuss raw, authentic, topics that are relevant to a global audience in 2017,” added Daniel Marhely, co-founder of Blackpills.
But as its predecessors Seeso and Fullscreen have learned, building a streaming service without marketing shows and robust brand-building is an uphill struggle in all directions.
To get a leg up on this hard reality, Blackpills started building its brand on Facebook and YouTube last year and even saw a breakout hit as its first format “You Got Trumped” debuted on its channel on both platforms in October 2016.
The company also paired up with Vice to syndicate Blackpills slate on Vice’s new video channel in what the companies are calling an “exclusive U.S. preview” — or a good exercise in audience development.
Below is a list of original shows available with Blackpills’ public release today:
All Wrong, with Chris Marquette and Brittany Furlan: Carlos finds himself unemployed, broke, and in debt. When he finally manages to bring home a woman for a one-night stand, everything gets even worse.
Duels, with Daniela Delfino and David Brownstein: Inspired by a recent lecture in their history class, three students decide to bring back the practice of dueling to solve their conflicts. As the videos go viral, the violence escalates and becomes a statewide issue.
Junior, directed and created by Zoe Cassavetes, with Lucia Ribisi, Kristin Froseth, Eric Johnson, Amy Seimetz: An unapologetic story about a teenage girl who finds herself in an unexpected love triangle with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend.
Pillowtalk, created by Mike Piscitelli and Rachael Taylor, executive producer Sharon Horgan and starring Patrick J. Adams: A tortured bachelor trying to stay in ‘the light’ in a world where casual sex is at his beck and call.
Pineapple, written, directed and edited by Arkasha Stevenson and starring Ron Gilbert: Originally premiered at Sundance Film Festival and acquired from Adaptive Studios by Blackpills, Pineapple tells the story of a small town after the daughter of a miner is assaulted in a local coal mine.
Playground, original idea by Luc Besson: A teenage girl joins a school for assassins and uncovers the mystery of her parents’ death.
Skinford, with Josh Brennan: In an attempt to save his father from death, Jimmy Skinford ends up risking his own life. His only chance of survival is to be touched by an immortal woman who is buried underground.
Surrogate, starring Emmeli Stjärnfeldt: Jane has been recently certified as a substitute surrogate partner for sexual therapy. At the Clinic for Healthy Sex, she meets with a wide range of clients in need of help for a variety of sexual disorders.
Twiz and Tuck, starring Twiz and Tuck: A wild, weird, irreverent guide to settling down from the trans and gender-fluid best friends, who drew up a list of the 25 things they wanted to do before they said goodbye to their wilder days, and set off across America to check them off.
Tycoon, directed by Louis Leterrier and written by Ben Kalifi and Erez Tadmor: The show follows a woman who has chosen to trade a year of her life and her privacy in exchange for $5 million. All she has to do is allow a young, vengeful real estate mogul trying to win back his empire control her every move.
Virgin, starring Georgina Leming and Sand Van Roy: Ellie, a girl in her early 20’s in a committed relationship prepares to lose her virginity to her boyfriend. Her two more sexually experienced roommates teach her everything she needs to know for the big moment.
You Got Trumped, directed by Derek Harvie and starring Ron Sparks: Created before the most recent U.S. election results were announced, this satire shows viewers what Donald Trump’s first 100 days in the White House might be like.
Blackpills is a digital media company specializing in short scripted premium content. Blackpills is founded by Daniel Marhely, the founder of Deezer, and Patrick Holzman, the founder of Europe’s first VOD service, and former Canal+ International executive. Blackpills unleashes the creative energies of A-list writers, directors and actors from around the world through short scripted series made directly for millennial mobile consumption. Blackpills has offices in Los Angeles, Paris, and Tel Aviv.