• Leveraging YouTube, Kin Community Aims for Long-Term Independent Success

    While a number of YouTube multichannel networks (MCNs) have made lucrative exits recently, Kin Community, an MCN/female-focused lifestyle network, is instead aiming for long-term independent success, CEO and co-founder Michael Wayne explained to me.

    Toward that end, late last week Kin raised $12 million, led by Canadian media company Corus Entertainment, with participation by Emil Capital and existing investors. It was the first financing in 6 years for the company, which has been profitable since 2012. Kin now generates 25 million unique viewers/month (and 4 billion lifetime views) with brands including Rosanna Pansino, Wayne Gross, The Ellen Show, Byron Talbot and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

    Kin is a great example of an early entrant in original online video that has succeeded by adapting its model over the years, including a critical decision to embrace YouTube as its primary distribution platform. Michael said that until just a few years ago YouTube's male-skewing audience composition wasn't well-aligned with female-focused Kin.

    But that changed as women flocked to YouTube for beauty and style videos, and Kin participated YouTube's Original Channel initiative. Now Michael sees YouTube as the optimal video distribution platform, not only for its unparalleled reach, but also for its strong audience engagement.

    Kin is much more focused than many other MCNs, working with only about 100 creators who have established deep loyalty with their fans. That's allowed Kin, which has its own sales team for over 6 years, to directly sell brand sponsorships and packages, while also collaborating with YouTube's sales team. Michael noted that Kin's creators participate in dozens of brand campaigns as well, and that the key to success is creators' authenticity and only promoting brands they value and/or use themselves.

    With the new financing Michael sees more international expansion, particularly in Canada, where Corus is based, plus larger sales and partner management teams. Kin's also aiming for an expanded roster of creators in the Food, Home/DIY, Style, Health and Fitness categories though it won't sacrifice quality for scale. Michael believes Kin is methodically laying the groundwork for long-term success, empowering creators to do what they love.