Jukin Media, which built its business with viral videos on social media, is staffing up as it grows its connected TV channels.
In June, Jukin Media’s FailArmy and Pet Collective Channels were added to Dish Network’s Sling TV, the second largest virtual multichannel video programmatic distributor with about 2.4 million subscribers.
Jukin said its channels generate 11 million monthly viewers on its current CTV platforms, including Comcast's X1.
“We were really lucky to be one of the first movers from the digital and social media space to invest in these FAST [free ad-supported streaming television] channels,” said Jon Skogmo, founder and CEO of Jukin Media.
Streaming blew up during the pandemic and Jukin was a beneficiary. Its streaming revenue grew 100%, contributing to a 15% increase overall, Skogmo said. Jukin is expecting similar 15% overall growth this year, he added.
Jukin is staffing up to continue its growth, both in connected TV and in international markets, Skogmo said.
It recently hired Darren Wadyko, previously with Funny or Die, Scripps Networks and G4 Media, as director of current programming for its streaming TV channels. Wadyko is looking at ways to create new assets from video it already has licenced from creators.
Don’t expect Jukin to start doing scripted programming any time soon, Skogmo said. “Who we are as Jukin is user generated. Everything is powered by the UGC and UGC is going to be the catalyst to tell a long-form narrative,” Skogmo said. “This content is real. It’s authentic. It can’t be manufactured. We believe it’s the future of storytelling.”
Dee Austin Robertson, formerly with ATTN: and Buzzfeed, was hired as VP of Jukin’s Digital Studio and Christopher Johnson, previously with Addison Interactive, joined as creative director.
The company is now up to 260 employees.
Jukin raised more than $4 million from investors including Bertelsmann, Peter Guber, Maker Studio and Samsung Ventures, but Skogmo said the company funds its operations from cash flow, without touching its investment capital. By avoiding the scripted content arms race, it probably can continue to operate that way and stay independent.
“Obviously, it's a very hot market in M&A activity in the media industry. We’d certainly want to capitalize if the right opportunity does come along,” he said.
Connected TV is a lean-back experience for viewers, so Jukin’s channels have to be different from its social media.
“We’re treating this like a television network. We’re creating original programming. We’re spending dollars and creating content, repackaging some of our social stuff. And we’re also licensing content from other libraries,” Skogmo said.
Skogmo said the company recently greenlit a new slate of shows, some with celebrities appearing or hosting. He declined to name names or disclose titles.
Unlike the quick bites content items get on social media, Jukin says that once a viewer finds one of its CTV channels, they stick around for a while. Mike Skogmo, Jon’s brother and Jukin’s senior VP, head of marketing and communications, says the average length of tune is 62 minutes.
That’s important to advertisers. Most advertisers are wary of being connected to user generated content. But Jukin goes out and curates the viral clips it builds its shows around to ensure that they’re brand safe and family friendly.
A lot of brands and advertisers are afraid of user-generated content. “Six, seven years ago, there wasn't a brand or an agency that would talk to us,” Mike Skogmo said.
Now, Jukin is seeing higher prices for commercials on its CTV channels than it gets for ads on social media.
The company also licenses user-generated clips to advertisers for use in their ad campaigns. Last year, it did more than 800 campaigns, supplying everything from clips of people using a particular brand, to family moments an advertiser might want to capture.
Brands using Jukin clips include Starbuck and Google, which hires Jukin to find appropriate YouTube clips for its ads, Mike Skogmo said.
The company has also started to create shows about the people who create the viral videos that are so popular. One show is called The E/O, a People Are Awesome channel docu-series featuring videos of extra-ordinary [E/O] action sports athletes. Creators profiled include Austin Keen, Isaiah Hill and Kyndall Harris.
Another show, Tales of the Fail, looks at the iconic moment in FailArmy history, telling the stories behind the viral moments with commentary and storytelling from the creators.
To fill out its channels, Jukin has also licensed shows in the weather, adventure, comed and extreme sports genres. The shows include Alaska Bush Pilots, Backcountry Rescue, Angry Planet and 30/10 Challenge.
Jukin has been getting increased distribution internationally. Some of that distribution comes as its current U.S. distributors, including Pluto TV, Xumo and Samsung expand overseas. In Latin America, Jukin has seen a 400% increase in streaming hours in the first quarter, compared to a year ago.
“Our business has always been a global business,” said Jon Skogmo, noting the reach of online media. “We think there’s huge opportunities for international expansion.”
The company also recently made distribution deals with Rakuten TV in Europe and Jio in India and will soon announce launches with TV makers in Europe.
When Jukin pitches a distributor in a new territory, it is able to show how many fans FailArmy and its other brands already have on social media.
“Our content is so real. It’s authentic. It’s also universal. At the end of the day it’s language agnostic,” CEO Skogmo said.
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.