The CEOs of Maker Studios and AwesomenessTV, Ynon Kreiz and Brian Robbins, respectively, believe their companies have grown beyond being simple multi-channel networks.
In a panel on Monday at TheGrill, TheWrap’s annual medial leadership conference, the executives discussed the state of their companies since Maker was acquired by Disney in 2014 and AwesomenessTV was acquired by DreamWorks Animation in 2013.
One area for future revenue for both companies arises from the transition of Facebook from marketing tool to distribution partner. Though the platform’s native video is still growing and evolving, both Kreiz and Robbins expressed confidence in the potential for future opportunities. “Whatever it is, it will be very big,” Kreiz told TheWrap CEO and editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman.
“We take a very different approach to video we upload to YouTube and video we upload to Facebook,” Robbins said, noting that the types of video that find success on each platform are very different.
But the majority of the content produced by both AwesomenessTV and Maker remains on YouTube. And despite other people’s complaints about the chunk of ad revenue taken by the Google-owned platform (55 percent), both CEO’s expressed happiness with the relationship.
“YouTube has done a great job in defining a category,” Kreiz said. “They didn’t conceive it, but they definitely defined the space… Our job is to reach people wherever they are, and not everyone is on YouTube.”
Though the company recently shuttered its own native web portal Blip.TV, Kreiz argued that the company doesn’t rely solely on YouTube. Its revenue comes from other areas, including the commercialization of their creators’ social media followings.
“If you rely solely on ad sales revenue, it’s probably tougher,” he said.
That sentiment was echoed by Robbins, who said that YouTube remains an important partner for AwesomenessTV. “I have no misgivings about YouTube. It is still a huge part of our business,” he said. “[But] our content lives in a lot of places other than YouTube.”
Robbins said that the company’s multi-channel network component was developed as a side product of a more traditional media production company. “We set out to build a brand with a wide space in it for teens. We thought that this was really who was interacting with the platform,” he said.
Kreiz expressed a similar sentiment, citing Maker’s many other ventures, including in technology, social media and actual production.
“In our mind, MCN is a term of the ’80s. The industry has evolved a lot since then,” Kreiz said. “The actual part of on-boarding talent is an important part, but not a key aspect of what Maker is.”
Kreiz also addressed his future at Maker Studios beyond the end of his contract and the studio’s earn-out period with Disney. Though the executive declined to say what his plans are, he emphasized that he remains completely focused on Maker.
“Well right now the focus is 1,000 percent Maker, and finishing the earn-out period on a high,” he said. “And finishing the first chapter with Disney on a high note.”