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When former Ovation executive Chad Gutstein took the helm of YouTube network Machinima in March, one of the first things he discovered was that the firm’s audience was broader than its gamer focus.
“Our audience was really strongly gamer but also into the fandom content,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “But when I started talking to people in Hollywood and the ad community, people thought we were only for young men. Our positioning was a little too narrow relative to what we were delivering.”
So Gutstein set about to change that and on Monday unveiled a refreshed look for the YouTube network. Machinima’s name will stay the same, but the company is getting a new logo, website and tagline — “Heroes Rise” — that Gutstein says encapsulates Machinima’s focus on gaming, fandom, action, adventure and sci-fi content.
Gutstein has also been growing Machinima’s ranks, growing the network’s roster of talent to more than 31,000 creators. As those numbers rise, he has revamped Machinima’s talent management program, creating a three-tiered system.
Anyone who joins the Machinima network can be part of the M-White tier, which offers basic support, analytics and access to additional tools. Talent on the rise will be invited to join the M-Red tier for premium support, advanced analytics, programming training and brand activation opportunities. Finally, the top tier of talent are invited to join M-Black, which gives creators one-on-one support, access to Machinima’s content development and production team, brand activation opportunities, special events and other services. This last level is reserved for Machinima’s most popular talent, such as Chilean comedian HolaSoyGerman, who has nearly 20 million subscribers, and gamer SkyDoesMinecraft, who has more than 10 million subscribers.
Gutstein describes it like playing a video game: “As our creators are on their heroes journeys they can level up to M-Black.”
Every Machinima member, no matter what tier, are also being given access to the network’s new tech platform. Dubbed Console, the platform provides earnings reports, social tools, analytics, support and other features.
In addition, Machinima is launching a research panel, the Legion Viewer Panel, for advertisers that tracks the preferences and profile of 10,000 Machinima viewers. “It’s a tool for us to use interanlly for programming,” Gustein notes. “But it’s also a great tool for our advertisers to tap into to ask questions, get insights to understand the impact of campaigns.”
Machinima was founded by brothers Allen DeBevoise and Philip DeBevoise in the mid-2000s as a YouTube multichannel network focused on video gaming content. Gaming, one of the most popular verticals on the Google-owned streaming platform, proved a hit with viewers for the West Hollywood company at first, generating millions of views. But the company recently has had to conduct several rounds of layoffs, including cutting its direct sales staff. Longtime CEO Allen DeBevoise announced in November that he would step down from the post once a successor had been named. He remains chairman of the board.
Gutstein has focused on rebuilding the company’s executive ranks with help from a $18 million investment led by Warner Bros. in March that brought the company’s total funding to more than $67 million since 2008.
He has also set his sights on building a programming-driven network instead, branding Machinima as a “many to many” network instead of a “YouTube multichannel network,” a term first given to companies such as Maker Studios that built premium advertising networks on the streamer.
“Everything we do comes from the perspective of being a programmer,” he explains. “And we’re not the only ones programming, it’s us and 30,000 other programming partners reaching an audience of hundreds of millions.”
The company, which reaches more than 150 million unique monthly viewers, also recently landed a three part series, Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles, from Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment.
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