No surprise, programming was the name of the game at Maker Studios’ NewFronts presentation on May 3.
But the Disney-owned MCN did have one unexpected treat for the small entourage of media buyers and industry VIPs in attendance at the event: an appearance by the most popular creator not only from the Maker network, but on all of YouTube — Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie. Kjellberg (who was recently named one of Time’s 100 most influential people of the year) is also the head of Maker’s new in-house gaming and fandom-centric network Revelmode, which was presented by Maker’s head of distribution and strategic partnerships, Kendra Johnson.
The network, according to Maker, reaches more than 100 million fans.
However, the main focus of the presentation was not metrics or creators, rather Maker’s growing original content slate.
Head of development and studios Gabriel Lewis, announced four concepts from Maker’s recently launched incubator program, Spark by Maker, would go on to be developed as series. (The platforms have not yet been announced).
Those series include:
- Spin for Ink, a game show hosted by celebrity tattoo artist and model Romeo Lacoste (263,000 subscribers on YouTube), which gives fans a new tattoo of their dreams if they earn it through a series of extreme challenges;
- Worthy, an unscripted series hosted by beauty vlogger Charisma Star (726,000 subscribers), who shares life advice and positive inspiration.
- The Remember Hour, a scripted comedy/drama series created by gamer Chad Quandt (9,000 subscribers). Quandt hosts a dystopian puppet show where puppets Rash and Skid share their knowledge of the past with fans.
- Can I Crush It? is a comedic game show hosted by fitness/gaming blogger Kali Muscle (850,000 subscribers), in which he takes fan suggestions on what objects he will attempt to crush with his own hands.
“Our creative process continues to evolve – utilizing Spark by Maker as a new blueprint for collaboration while retaining Maker Studios’ distinct brand voice,” said Lewis. “In a media landscape where video has become commoditized, now, more than ever, it’s important to focus on differentiated strengths.”
Other upcoming originals from Maker include:
- Thai Machine, a scripted comedy series starring Maker talent Timothy DeLaGhetto (3.2 million subscribers) and Ricky Shucks (639,000 subscribers) who are transported to various periods throughout history by a magical, time-traveling food truck.
- What Happened to the Babysitter, a scripted children’s series directed by special effects pro Patric Boivin. When four-year-old Romeo is left with his babysitter, things get out of control and Romeo must use his superhuman skills to battle the evil, fantastical adversaries.
This year’s presentation by Maker was noticeably scaled back from previous appearances at the NewFronts. The company has weathered a number of high-profile exits in recent months. Last summer, chief content officer Erin McPherson left the MCN, as did former head of marketing, Jeremy Welt.
The biggest shake-up came in December 2015, when former CEO Ynon Kreitz left the company (with EVP Courtney Holt taking his place). The departure of Kreiz (who recently joined the board of directors at Warner Music Group) was long-rumoured by media outlets such as Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Deadline, who alleged that the company had fallen short of various (unspecified) performance-based targets when Maker was acquired by Disney in 2014.