How fan boys drive Machinima into original series


In a converged media landscape, internet TV  increasingly means delivering original series that bridge the gap between traditional and digital screens.

Paving that revolutionary path is Machinima, a major video entertainment brand for gamers now busily making original content for its global audience.

“What we think is unique is we’ve already created a brand and we have already have a massive global audience,” explains Sanjay Sharma, executive vice president of strategy and business development at Machinima.

Now the challenge is dropping content into the expanding network and funneling eyeballs to it.

“We know the audience. We know our content. We can test in real time. And if it works, we can make a 90-minute series,” Sharma adds.

An example of successfully targeting traditional and digital platforms is Bite Me, an original zombie comedy that got 14 million views during its first season on Machinima’s YouTube channel, and was also sold to the FEARnet cable channel backed by Lionsgate, Sony and Comcast.

The second season of Bite Me was a coproduction between Machinima and Lionsgate.

Other original series from Machinima have followed, including the RCVR sci-fi web drama and the live action scripted show Mortal Kombat, which spun-off a feature film.

The typical Machinima series targets a core fan-boy/Comicon audience.

“It’s Batman, The Dark Knight, Game of Thrones, comic books and gaming and stories with deep mythology. That’s the stuff that our audience of mainly young males just salivates over,” Sharma insists.

He likens the early days of internet TV to the emergence of MTV, which launched with cheaply produced, four-minute music videos aimed not just at music fans, but the mind share of young Americans.

Fast forward a generation and gaming is a dominant entertainment sector worldwide whose users Machinima is targeting.

What’re more, gaming is a proxy for more than video gaming, just as MTV represented more than music to its early following.

“We have a global consumer brand that is resonating with global youth and entertainment-technology culture,” Sharma explains.

How does Machinima fit into the evolving online screen-entertainment landscape?

At the top end of the market, Sharma sees streaming players like Netflix and premium cable channels like AMC and FX moving off of legacy distribution deals to increasingly make their own original series.

“There’s a renaissance of TV based on a handful of series,” he argues.

And in a separate revolution, YouTube has amassed over 1 billion unique followers, ushering in a giant social web video platform.

Sharma sees Machinima bridging both traditional and new media.

“We see our business as a video programming network not unlike a traditional TV network, but one that licenses through both of the worlds,” he says.

That means leveraging millions of interactions on Machinima’s YouTube channel, while also turning the loyalty of its fan boy audience into premium content, as with Bite Me on FEARnet.

“We see ourselves increasingly gravitating up, and increasing investment in premium original programming,” Sharma argues.

“We know our audience really loves it and soaks it up and asks when the next Mortal Kombat is coming out,” he adds.

For Machinima, it’s biggest impact comes when it produces original content for both traditional and new media.

“We don’t think there’s YouTube and (separately) let’s make a TV show. The interchange of those two worlds is really disruptive,” Sharma says.