Online Video Updates: HitFix and Disney Join the Fray

According to Nielsen’s latest Cross-Platform Report, 152 million people spend time watching online video content on a monthly basis. In an attempt to capitalize on the tremendous growth in online video viewing, companies are investing time, money and energy into creating and/or acquiring video properties. Today, entertainment news site HitFix announced the full launch of HitFix Video and this past week Disney acquired Maker Studios, a digital video network that boasts over 380 million subscribers across all 55,000 of its channels and generates 5.5 billion views a month.

Though HitFix has already worked with online video in the form of exclusive interviews, live event coverage, breaking news and behind-the-scenes clips, the company will now add originals and viral videos to the mix.

“Basically, for us, video is the way, the hook, the content and the opportunity to get in front of consumers on all of the screens and all of the devices they interact with in their daily lives,” said HitFix CEO Jen Sargent.

As a prominent content site, making the shift to online video was a fairly easy transition. In order to appeal to its young audience, the company will concentrate on producing comedic spots similar to those of Funny or Die and College Humor. HitFix video will also travel, reaching viewers across multiple platforms such as movie theaters (National CineMedia), college campuses (Campus Nation), and quick service restaurants (IZ ON Media).

Of course, any new video platform will attract advertisers and with 300 million viewers and 90 million video streams a month, HitFix has already brought in the likes of USA Network, AMC and Summit. The company has opened up advertising to all advertisers looking to reach the site’s highly sought-after millennial demographic.

“What we can do is this 360-degree approach,” Sargent said. “We tell our advertisers, let us get you on over 600 college campuses via mobile, our website and our YouTube channel. We can really cover these 18-to-34-year-olds throughout the day and hone in on that particular audience. We can bring something that no one can.”

Reaching younger audiences online isn’t an easy task, but with its acquisition of Maker Studios, Disney hopes to do just that.

“It’s a very exciting combination of a very strong combination of networks on YouTube,” Disney’s evp of corporate strategy and business development, Kevin Mayer, said of Maker. “The ecosystem is extremely large and growing and extremely relevant to the younger audiences, and those are very difficult to reach.”

Maker Studios is a digital video network that according to AdWeek, “distributes such strange hits as PewDiePie and Shay Carl (the work of co-founder Shay Carl Butler), as well as a series of fashion-related shows for women, and even syndicates old-school cartoons for kids under its Cartoonium imprint.

With a $500 million base pay and $450 million earn-out possible, the acquisition was designed to insert Disney into the thriving online video industry. Current Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger noted in a statement, “Short-form online video is growing at an astonishing pace and with Maker Studios, Disney will now be at the center of this dynamic industry with an unmatched combination of advanced technology and programming expertise and capabilities.”

As companies seek to target younger audiences online, a digital video presence will become a must. Disney and HitFix have expanded their video offerings in hopes of driving increased engagement online and will no doubt appease content hungry consumers in the digital space.

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