It’s been a quiet year since Russell Arons took the top chair at Machinima, on the heels of Warner Brothers’ acquisition of the remaining stake in the business under leadership of then-CEO Chad Gutstein. And now the marketing SVP-turned-GM is making her first major move to bring a stagnating brand back to life. Revealed today, Machinima has a new look and a renewed approach to working with talent in its network. It’s a move Gutstein made as well when he took the reins in 2014, prompting a reason to re-enter the marketplace, re-brief its brand partners and advertisers and drum up a fresh story for the company. As it would seem, the company — now a part of Warner Brothers Digital Networks — has a fresh reason to remind its brands and advertisers that “Machinima is now supercharged” accoring to Arons, thanks to the relationship with Warner Brothers. Sources familiar with the company also note a subtle but important internal change to once-again break the sales team away from Warner Brothers Digital Networks and allow a new sales team to sell Machinima independently. “We are not reinventing the business models or how we have been working with partners successfully, but we are definitely re-focusing around the gaming audience,” added Arons.
As part of her vision for the brand, Arons tells VideoInk that the crucial piece will be how Machinima works to integrate the talent in its network into the programming, across four verticals –Action/First Person Shooters, Role Playing Games, Fighting/Sports games and Sandbox games. It’s an approach that’s been tried by nearly every MCN to date, and even Verizon’s go90, which has recently departed from that strategy after being rolled up into OATH.
“Machinima is building on a solid foundation that is resonating with its growing audience while celebrating the best fandoms and gamer content,” said Craig Hunegs, President, Business and Strategy, Warner Bros. Television Group and President, Warner Bros. Digital Networks. “This rebranding highlights Machinima as one of the most unique and successful platforms in the industry.”
But aside from slight shifts to its talent approach and another reboot, Machinima is business-as-usual — activating its studio arm to service distributors including Facebook Watch and Twitch, producing live events like “Body Count Fighting”, and continuing to grow its audience from 140 million across its social and video channels. “We believe that gamers are a really elusive audience for a lot of advertisers, so our network is really a big asset for the company so we’re focusing on gaming more than ever before,” added Arons. “We’re going to do everything — we’re going to walk and chew gum.”