• Maker Studios NewFronts: The Rise of Short-Form and Battle for Millennials

    Maker Studios' NewFronts presentation last night illustrated two of online video's biggest trends - the rise of short-form as a bona fide programming format and the intensifying battle for attention of millennial audiences. Maker is already a juggernaut, with 6 billion views per month, but last night's ambitious programming agenda - combined with its new access to Disney's treasure chest of iconic characters/brands - underscore Maker's potential to keep remaking the video landscape.

    With chief content officer Erin McPherson as MC, the night consisted of a mix of new program reveals, celebrity (digital and mainstream) appearances/performances (will.i.am, Cody Wise and The Gregory Brothers) and business side presentations. Maker highlighted a handful of its 23 verticals, showcasing select talent and always noting the hundreds of thousands to millions of subscribers they already have. While Microsoft and Yahoo are pursuing TV-like long-form programming, Maker's message is very focused on short-form.

    New programs from Maker include "Smartish" from Morgan Spurlock, "Ithamar Has Nothing to Say" from Comedy Central's Key and Peele, "Over the Top" from Chester See, "ShayLife" from Shay Carl, "Oh You Pretty Things" a scripted series about gen Y'ers in East L.A., and a new education channel from Minecraft YouTuber Stampylonghead.

    Maker also detailed its new Maker Labs initiative, an incubator for new programming which has initial commitments from will.i.am, James Franco, Robert Kirkman ("The Walking Dead"), X-gamer Nyjah Houston and Pepsi. And it provided a brief demo of its new Maker Offers program to help brands link up directly with Maker talent.

    Earlier in the week Maker also revealed Maker.TV, its first direct-to-consumer brand, meant to diversify off of YouTube. On the business side Maker also unveiled a multi-million dollar commitment from Omnicom Media Group.

    Ultimately the night was about driving home the following logic sequence: Maker is huge already, it is going to create programming which will give it an even bigger footprint with millennial audiences, if you want access to them, then advertisers need to be working with Maker. From my vantage point, those arguments looked pretty compelling.