Inside Baroness von Sketch Show’s digital domination

How the all-female sketch comedy TV series has capitalized on social buzz.

We’re rolling out our Best of the Year picks, and today CBC makes the list. Part of CBC’s success is it’s commitment to its digital strategy, which is helping drive awareness and traffic to its content. We dove deeper into one of its most successful linear-to-digital series, Baroness von Sketch Show.

When Toronto’s Frantic Films and Baroness von Sketch Show creators/executive producers/stars Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill, Aurora Browne and Jennifer Whalen approached the CBC with the all-female, single-camera comedy that would absolutely avoid the use of a laugh track, the CBC jumped at the opportunity, committing to the series that day.

“Michelle Daly [senior director, Comedy Content at CBC] who was in the meeting with us said, ‘This is the direction we want to go: smaller, leaner, better,'” Baroness‘ Browne recalls, adding the CBC wanted to produce high-quality entertainment and “take more of a chance creatively.”

The first season, produced by Frantic in association with the CBC, debuted on television screens on June 14. The six-episode series averaged a 2+ audience of 265,000, according to Numeris data provided by CBC. But it’s the series’ digital push that’s been the most successful.

Almost a month before the June television premiere, CBC Comedy posted a sketch for the series on its YouTube channel. Entitled “Locker Room” (or “Welcome to your 40s. Welcome to not giving a shit at the gym”) the clip has since been viewed more than 175,000 times on YouTube and garnered more than 1.7 million views and 4,200 likes on Facebook. Overall, Baroness sketches have been viewed more than 8.4 million times on Facebook since launching in May, according to the CBC.

“The CBC, from Hubert Lacroix down, their mandate is to be in the digital spaces, to not just be traditional television, but to find ways to be prevalent online,” says Frantic CEO and Baroness executive producer Jamie Brown.

The series itself is almost tailor-made for social sharing. The skits can range from less than 30 seconds in length to longer, couple-minute sketches that have eye-catching titles like “The Saving Private Ryan of tampon commercials” or “It’s a woman’s product, of course it has butterflies.”

“I got to know Key and Peele through sketches shared on Facebook; I got to know Amy Schumer, at first, of course, by things shared on Facebook,” says Baroness’ Browne. “We knew that not only the televised audience would find it, but our people who get things online would be there [too].”

And with the help of the CBC and Halifax-based publicity firm Pigeon Row (which manages the show’s digital presence), their people did find them – and turns out those people don’t just live in Canada. Frantic’s Brown says that because the sketches are being shared so widely global outlets are reporting on the series and driving interest in the program. “As we try to get the show onto networks internationally, which would be great, so people all over the world could enjoy it, this kind of early buzz in their territories is fantastic,” he says.

While international deals have yet to be secured, the CBC did renew the series for a seven-episode second season, to air in 2017. So what do the Baronesses hope to achieve next? “A big fat order for season three,” says Browne.