Smosh, ScreenJunkies and friends might be headed to TV, their boss says


Defy Media President Keith Richman sees $$$ signs in TV.

Defy Media President Keith Richman oversees a lot of big internet celebrities, including YouTube wunderkinds Smosh, “Honest Trailers” maker ScreenJunkies and young-Hollywood experts Clevver. All told, Defy has 70 million YouTube subscribers watching 800 million videos a month.

But Richman knows there’s still money on the table. Or, more accurately, money on the TV set.

“Over time, there will be a great correlation between dollars paid and what people watch,” Richman said on the latest episode of Recode Media With Peter Kafka. However: “There’s a lot of people who make a lot of money for programs that a very small number of people watch.”

In non-industry speak, that means that the ad dollars are still better on television, and Defy is thinking about jumping in. Richman said he wasn’t deterred by the lousy ratings of Viceland, the cable channel recently launched by fellow digital brand Vice.

“No matter what platform we’ve been on, we’ve managed to find an audience that really likes our content,” he said. “TV is just another platform. It just happens to be one that today might monetize better.”

How exactly Defy would get into TV might be as simple as programming a two-hour block of shows, or more ambitious, on a Viceland scale. Richman pointed out that Defy, the product of a 2013 merger between Break Media and Alloy Digital, currently produces 72 shows per week, with only 375 employees.

You can listen to Recode Media in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher. After this bonus episode, we’ll have another interview at our normal time this Thursday — in that one, Peter talks to music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers all of the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, such as the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Peter. Tune in next Thursday for another episode of Recode Media!

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