By Sahil Patel
When Endemol Beyond USA first went live as a multi-platform digital network in 2013, it boasted 80 million monthly views. Now it’s achieving more than 550 million views per month, according to Will Keenan, president of the US-based digital channels division of Endemol Shine Group.
In an effort to build on that growth, the company announced at its second-ever NewFronts presentation that it plans to launch two new vertical-oriented digital networks later this year. Looksy and Smasher, which will focus on pop-culture and
gaming and sports, respectively, will join Michelle Phan’s Icon Network under the Endemol Beyond family.
Both networks will launch with a slate of “premium” original series, which brands can get involved in from the very beginning, the company said.
For Looksy, Endemol Beyond will be producing a scripted comedy series called “Neurotica,” which comes from Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, writers and producers of “The Office,” HBO’s “Hello Ladies,” and the Cameron Diaz film “Bad Teacher.” The series will follow a twenty-something whose search for love is constantly thwarted by his own warped but well-meaning mind.
Looksy will also feature “True Internet Tales,” a documentary series from the Emmy-nominated producer of “E! True Hollywood Story,” Michael Lynn, who will explore the true stories and details behind famous online stars, memes, and viral videos.
Other series for Looksy include “Bad Girl,” a prank series hosted by Endemol Beyond’s Vine star Brittany Furlan, and “Deep Insider,” a news and pop-culture show featuring digital and traditional stars.
For Smasher, Endemol Beyond announced several series including two international imports: “Legends of Gaming” and “Rule’m Sports.”
“Legends of Gaming” is a competition series featuring battles between star video gamers and challengers chosen by the YouTube community. The series will be hosted by YouTuber Toby Turner.
“Rule’m Sports” will follow YouTuber Jesse Wellens of PrankVsPrank as he challenges star athletes to various competitions.
Other series include “Offsides,” in which a otp YouTube prankster will try to prank athletes, and “Milonakis 2.0,” which will be a reboot of Andy Milonakis’ MTV show featuring sketches, man-on-the-street segments, and comedy music videos.
Both networks will be distributed through a “multi-layered, multi-platform ecosystem that is custom-tuned to each network’s audience and advertiser appeal,” according to Endemol Beyond. In other words, Endemol Beyond will distribute both networks to the platforms and channels that make the most sense for the people actually watching that content.
Endemol Beyond currently distributes content across more than 20 platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr — which it refers to as the “first layer” — and then also various over-the-top, syndication, and mobile video platforms such as Vessel, Dailymotion, AOL, Yahoo, and Endemol Beyond’s own apps for iOS, Android, and connected-TVs — which is the “second layer.”
In other news, Keenan said Phan’s Icon Network will also expand in the coming year. Initially launching earlier this year in the US and UK, the network will launch extensions in Western Europe and Asia in the summer and fall, respectively.
Endemol is also producing two new original series in partnership with hip-hop star Pitbull. “Masterclass” will feature male and female hosts who get “schooled” by experts on a wide-range of topics including welding, surviving in the wilderness, knife-making, and dancing. “Pitbull Presents” will spotlight individuals who have played a major role in the music star’s life, from his chef to audio engineer to his personal photographer.
And finally, Endemol Beyond USA also announced that it’s signed “American Idol” finalist Jessica Sanchez to an overall deal. Sanchez, who first started out on YouTube, will be supported by the company as she pursues her creative endeavors, and will also star in a number of original series airing across Endemol Beyond USA’s digital networks.