In an online video world obsessed with pinpoint brand identification and narrow demographics, the multichannel network Kin Community stands out with its wide target audience, women ages 18 to 54, and its even wider slate of women’s lifestyle programming, focusing on food, home and DIY, as well as beauty and fashion.
And the slate continues to grow wider, as Kin focuses on launching more series for its MCN, both scripted and unscripted.
In the fall, Kin launched its second original scripted series inspired by a Jane Austen novel, Emma Approved. More recently, it partnered with Kate Albrecht, host of the channel Mr. Kate. Together, they co-produce the series OMG We Bought a House, following two young newlyweds as they buy and renovate a home, which launched earlier this year.
“The type of content that our creators are syndicating on YouTube helps support these women as they transition through different life stages,” says Jennifer McDonnell (pictured, left), VP of partnership for Kin’s parent company, DECA. “The audience looks to them as role models.”
Kin has shows catering to teens (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modernized adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice), shows catering to mature moms (Pretty Frugal Living), and even celebrity host Ellen DeGeneres (The Ellen Show channel).
But DECA execs are not blind to the fact that the youthful end of their demo can attract sexier tie-ins than, say, the Listerine 21 Day Challenge link posted below the “Amrita’s ChickBeSa” episode of Pretty Frugal Living. (The assessment of the Listerine ad is the author’s. DECA calls the Listerine tie-in “a great example of brand partnerships with Kin talent.”)
“OMG! We Bought a House really targets that Millennial audience,” McDonnell says. “We looked for that because we’re looking for bigger sponsorships and growing that specific brand.”
Kin Community has a revenue-share model with its YouTube creators. It develops some shows in-house, and picks up others from third-party prodcos.
“For series like Entertaining with Beth and Mr. Kate’s OMG! We Bought a House, we funded the ideas from the ground up,” McDonnell explains. “Series like the Lizzie Bennet Diaries [produced by Pemberley Digital] and SeaLemonDIY were already in production and showing great traction in building an engaged audience when we made our investments.”
One of Kin’s marquee attractions is the baking show Nerdy Nummies, hosted by Rosanna Pansino. In just two years, Pansino – one of the creators promoted in this week’s YouTube’s TV, digital and out-of-home advertising campaign – has built a full-time YouTube career with 1.5 million subscribers and three videos listed on YouTube’s top 10 most viewed food video list for 2013.
“[Pansino’s] content actually spans all three of (our) demographics, with a really heavy concentration on the mom audience,” McDonnell says. “We believe that’s because there’s a lot of co-viewing happening, with moms watching with their children. It also attracts teenagers and millennials, who are like, ‘I’m going to try to tackle this Angry Birds cupcake.'”
When parent company DECA first launched in 2007, it financed and produced a variety of online video content, including business and technology shows. In October 2008, it signed an exclusive business development deal with wacky YouTube sensations Smosh (Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox). The following month, it launched Momversation, an online video series featuring a rotating cast of mom (and sometimes dad) bloggers discussing parenting and women’s issues.
“We have a direct sales team that is out there in the marketplace, fully-focused on selling our Kin Community inventory, so we’re able to elevate the CPMs that they wouldn’t have been getting naturally just through the ad syndication.”
Both were successful (today, Smosh has upwards of 3.1 billion views), but when Google launched the YouTube Original Channel Initiative in 2011, it took notice of Momversation and invited DECA to launch what became the Kin Community.
Prior to creating Kin, “we weren’t focused on YouTube at all,” McDonnell says. “Through the YouTube originals program, we were incentivized to start creating content for YouTube and at that point really fell in love with the platform. We saw real audience, real engagement, really exciting shift that happened as a result of that program.”
With its focus shifted to women’s programming, DECA decided to sell its equity interest in Smosh to Alloy Digital (now Defy Media) in 2011. (DECA currently owns equity in Defy Media.) It kept Momversation, but decided that the show would not be a good model for Kin content.
“When we looked at YouTube, we recognized that we would be more successful if we created a brand that was speaking to moms without directly saying that,” McDonnell says.
Launched in December 2011, the Kin Community has been profitable since Q3 2012, bolstered by sponsorship deals with companies such as Target, General Mills, P&G and Unilever. It currently has 88 YouTube channels with over 14 million subscribers and 3.2 billion total views.
Moving forward, “our focus is on high-quality lifestyle creators who are passionate about their particular vertical, and really authentic,” McDonnell says. “It’s about partnering with influencers, whether they’re from the blogosphere, YouTube, traditional media or other social platforms like Pinterest. (In December, it signed top Pinterest poster Joy Cho, along with Pansino and make-up artist Wayne Goss.)
But McDonnell is quick to point out that Kin can have a strong economic influence on those influencers.
“So many of our partners have been building their brand as a one-woman show up until this point,” McDonnell says. “By partnering with Kin Community, we’re able to provide an immediate support system, whether it’s guidance from our audience development and analytics experts or strategy from our programming and production team. We have a direct sales team that is out there in the marketplace, fully-focused on selling our Kin Community inventory, so we’re able to elevate the CPMs that they would be getting naturally through the AdSense auction.”
Pics: Screengrabs of Rosanna Pansino and OMG! We Bought a House