Viral Video Firm Jukin Media Builds Studio to Expand Original Content Push

“We are talking to all the buyers,” founder and CEO Jonathan Skogmo told TheWrap

Jukin Media has built itself into a mini-media empire by connecting viral videos like “Chewbacca Mom” and “Pizza Rat” to millions of viewers around the world. Wednesday, the company took the next step in its evolution, announcing its plans to start construction on a 14,000 square foot studio to take its popular user-generated content to a more professional level.

Jonathan Skogmo, Jukin’s founder and CEO, told TheWrap that while a studio has been in the company’s plans for a while, today’s content landscape made it perfect timing for such a move. He mentioned the challenges media networks are facing in securing compelling content without breaking the bank, given all the deep-pocketed buyers in the market, including Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and now Apple. But while Jukin broke through by licensing bite-sized clips for internet-based consumption, Skogmo said its relatively cheap and popular original series have become increasingly desired by traditional outlets.

“We are producing more content for those linear networks,” Skogmo said. “We are talking to all the buyers. They’re dealing with their own issues right now. They need alternative programming, they need to be looking at their business differently and I think companies like Jukin are the solution.”

To that end, Jukin has collaborated with Fox on “World’s Funniest Fails,” hosted by actor Terry Crews, and the company recently produced a show with Kevin Hart for Lionsgate’s new Laugh Out Loud streaming service. Jukin expects its production of original series to significantly ramp-up over the next six to 12 months.

The studio, which will be built on the site of a vacant property next to Jukin’s Los Angeles-area headquarters, will include two sound stages, permanent and temporary sets, sound mixing suites, a screening room, a green room, and up to 20 video editing suites. Construction is set to start this October.

Jukin’s new facility will be the headquarters of its proprietary digital brands, including The Pet Collective, People Are Awesome, and FailArmy, which combine for more than 65 million fans and 2.1 billion video views per month. FailArmy and Pet Collective have distribution deals for original programs based on their user-generated content with companies including Viacom and Comcast.

“It’s about taking those everyday stories and everyday users and elevating the storytelling, elevating the production value so it can [be better suited for] long form,” Skogmo said, describing Jukin’s vision of long-form as anything from 3 minutes to a half-hour or hour-long TV show. “I think it’s just a natural extension of our business.”

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