How Jukin makes TV shows from viral Web videos


Jukin Media has mastered the art of aggregation. It has collected the Internet’s best “fail” videos to the tune of 960 million views in 2015 on its Fail Army property, one of the top 50 channels on YouTube. While profitable, Jukin, like many media companies that built huge audiences on the back of aggregation, is now trying to make the leap into original content, with the aim for it to be the company’s top revenue source in two years.

The Jukin approach to “original” content is not to create big-budget hits like Netflix, however. Instead, Jukin is finding ways to repackage content it’s already licensed. Jukin has three shows on TV: “World’s Funniest” for Fox in the U.S.; “Now That’s Funny!” for Channel 5 in the U.K.; and “Fail Army” in 221 markets worldwide. In the digital world, the company is packaging short-form series for Verizon’s Go90 mobile streaming service and Sky’s digital home-entertainment platform Sky Q.

“We are an [intellectual property] business, we’re a company that holds a lot of IP we acquired from others,” said Jon Skogmo, founder and CEO of Jukin Media. “How do we expand that into new businesses? We start building our own.”

The centerpiece of Jukin’s original content effort is Fail Army, which has nearly 9.1 million subscribers on YouTube and more than 5.3 million fans on Facebook. On YouTube, Jukin creates compilations that put several videos into two-to four-minute clips. On Facebook, it delivers videos individually. Jukin determines which videos will appear on the shows it produces for other platforms, based on their popularity on YouTube and Facebook.

For instance, on the mobile-focused Go90, Jukin has a deal to produce 50 episodes of a weekly three-minute countdown show called “Fail Five,” which packages five of Fail Army’s most popular fail videos around specific themes.

All of Jukin’s TV shows also feature the best-performing online clips, ranging from a panel of comedians debating what the funniest video of the week is on Fox’s “World’s Funniest” to the syndicated “Fail Army,” which is simply a compilation of various fails accompanied by a voiceover.

According to Skogmo, this strategy is actually helping the Fail Army brand grow across all of its platforms. Rather than cannibalize viewership, people are watching Fail Army content on one platform and then seeking out more videos on others.

“We are programming all these channels in a way that they all relate back to each other,” he said. For instance, the TV shows direct users to Fail Army’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Its Facebook page links users to FailArmy content on Go90.

According to the company, the FailArmy YouTube channel will surpass 1 billion views on YouTube in 2015 alone, up from roughly 575 million views in 2014. On Facebook, the Fail Army page has added 266,000 new fans, the biggest weekly increase Jukin has ever seen on Facebook or YouTube. Los Angeles-based Jukin itself has doubled to 125 employees in the past year.

Both “World’s Funniest” and “FailArmy” have been given second seasons by Fox and Dick Clark Productions, while “Fail Five” is one of the most popular shows on Go90, according to Skogmo.

“Companies that are effective at getting people to share videos, whether it’s IP they own, license or represent, are building an audience of people who are traditionally leaving TV,” said Chris Dorr, executive director of the Global Online Video Association. “Now you have TV networks who are panicked by the fact that millennials are abandoning them and one way they’re trying to get them back is by finding the content they share online and repacking it for their channels.”

While the audience is there, it also helps that the clip show style of content that Jukin produces is cheaper to make than the type of scripted comedy or drama normally found on TV.

“It’s definitely more cost effective, which was attractive to Fox,” said Skogmo. “In fact, it’s a selling point that we’ve used in all of our negotiations [with original content partners].”

Main image courtesy of Sonsedska Yuliia / Shutterstock

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