Top Digital Content

Top Digital Content recognizes best content and multichannel networks

Presented by Digital LA and the Television Academy IMPG

LOS ANGELES – Award-winning content creators with combined 30M subscribers joined multichannel network Presidents and senior executives to discuss highlights of the past year and predictions for 2015 at our Top Digital Content event with the Television Academy Interactive Media Peer Group at the Crest Theatre in Westwood, Los Angeles.

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IMG_7687Talent will continue to grow their audiences across platforms, work on bigger deals with brands who ‘get it’, and go mainstream, said panelists on the content creators panel, who all won Streamys Awards this year, as well as wins and nominations for both Emmys Interactive awards and PGA awards. The creators panel included: EpicLLOYD of Epic Rap Battles of History (won three Streamys Awards), Freddie Wong and Matt Arnold creators of Video Game High School (won three Streamys Awards), DeStorm, Shira Lazar of What’s Trending, and Margaret Dunlap writer on Lizzie Bennet Diaries (won two Streamys and previously won first interactive Emmy), and Cassey Ho of Blogilates. Moderated by Digital LA founder Kevin Winston.

Will Keenan, Endemol Beyond, President
Will Keenan, Endemol Beyond, President

Multichannel networks have received international business attention after Disney’s acquisition of Maker Studios. They are growing to do more than aggregate creators, including management, development, analytic tools, marketing, and brand deals, said MCN Presidents and senior execs on the Executive panel. Speakers included Dan Weinstein President of the Collective, Will Keenan President of Endemol Beyond, Larry Shapiro Co-President of Big Frame, Vanessa Del Muro SVP Talent at StyleHaul, Khudor Annous of Fullscreen, and Jorge Granier CEO of Latin Everywhere. Moderated by Seth Shapiro, Co-Governor of the Television Academy Interactive Media Peer Group.

DeStorm Power
DeStorm won the Streamy for Vine Comedian

DeStorm described how he started his Vine channel just a year ago, and has grown to more than 4.1M followers and more than 1 billion loops. He recently won the Streamys Award for the new Vine Comedian category. He said that he and other Vine stars are being approached to help record labels and artists create buzz for a song with their combined audiences.

“Vine is the wild west,” of the digital space DeStorm said, emphasizing its growing audience.

StyleHaul CEO and Co-Founder Stepanie Horbaczewski gave a keynote Q&A, describing how she founded and grew StyleHaul over the past three years, from starting it to its recently announced a $200M valuation, and large brand deals.

“We’ve over-delivered on every brand deal,” Stephanie said.

Highlights of 2014. Multi-channel networks and digital creators have had a standout year in 2014. Multichannel networks have proven to be a Silicon Beach success story, with deals including Disney’s $500M-$1B acquisition of Maker Studios, Fullscreen’s $250M+ acquisition, StyleHaul’s $200M valuation, and Hearst’s recent investment in Awesomeness TV, giving it at a valuation of $300M.

Digital content creators had several milestone events as well. Variety featured top YouTubers Shane Dawson and Jenna Marbles on the cover. Variety released a study showing some teens find YouTube stars more popular than traditional Hollywood celebrities. Powerhouse influencers like Michelle Phan are appearing on national mainstream campaigns including TV ads and billboards.

Predictions for 2015 include bigger brand deals, and continued audience growth of top content creators across both digital platforms (YouTube, Vine, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook) and other media (TV, film, games, merchandise).

STYLEHAUL KEYNOTE with Stephanie Horbaczewski, CEO / Co-Founder

StyleHaul CEO and Co-Founder Stepanie Horbaczewski gave a keynote Q&A, describing how she founded and grew StyleHaul over the past three years, from starting it to its recently announced a $200M valuation.

Stephanie Horbaczewski, StyleHaul CEO
Stephanie Horbaczewski, StyleHaul CEO

Stephanie said she personally approached the first 200+ beauty and fashion content creators to invite them to join her StyleHaul network. She has expanded StyleHaul beyond its Hollywood headquarters, now totaling more than 70 employees worldwide, with offices in New York, Chicago and London.

She has developed brand deals with top cosmetic and fashion companies such as L’Oreal and Maybelline, as well as credit card / commerce / shopping companies.

Stephanie said a goal for next year and the future, is to continue expanding StyleHaul from more than a beauty / fashion brand, to a women’s lifestyle brand. She spearheaded a FremantleMedia deal to develop 10 original web video series over the next two years, and debuted Showtime Networks’ ‘Web Therapy’ starring Lisa Kudrow.

MCN Executive panel

Several MCN heads said their business has evolved to more than channel aggregation. Now they help marketers and manage their talent, as well as develop brand deals.

MCN Presidents and senior executives predictions for 2014

“We are more than a MCN. We are a Premium Content Network,” said Will Kennan, President of Endemol Beyond, which in the past year has signed top stars in music (Pitbulle), YouTube (Michelle Phan) and Vine (Brittany Furlan) to help manage and grow their brands across digital and other media channels.

MCNs are having a “Survivor moment,” said Dan Weinstein, President of the Collective Digital Studio, which includes Video Game High School, Annoying Orange, and Epic Meal Time.

“The media company’s that don’t listen to the creators miss the opportunity.” said Larry Shapiro, co-president of Big Frame, which is part of Awesomeness TV and works with several high influence content creators.


Shira Lazar, What's Trending
Shira Lazar, Host and Co-Founder of What’s Trending

Creators will experiment across more platform and brands, and grow internationally, said Shira Lazar, host and co-founder of What’s Trending. The online show features interviews with top online stars, integrates user comments, and appears in Virgin America airlines inflight entertainment system. Shira also said What’s Trending is also being syndicated in India.

Online storytelling will continue to be more responsive to audience comments and feedback. Margaret Laney, writer on Lizzie Bennet Diaries, said that early on, certain standout characters received lots of fan praise, so they were given more scenes and storylines just a few episodes later.

Video Game High School creators Freddie Wong and Matt Arnold said now they’ve enjoyed growing their idea for a VFX series about a video game high school, to a worldwide community fanbase with 7M subscribers. The series recently ended, and they are pursuing additional creative projects under their RocketJump Studios.

Blogilates founder Cassey Ho screened one of her fitness videos, and is part of the StyleHaul network. She is looking to more audience growth and new deals in the next year.

YouTube Rewind

YouTube Rewind, Kai Hasson, Portal A
YouTube Rewind produced by Kai Hasson of Portal A

The event kicked off with screening the YouTube Rewind video, which includes top content creators of the year, and was released earlier that day. This year’s video includes both US and international YouTube stars.

“It’s more international. We filmed in several countries,” reflecting YouTube’s worldwide audience, said Kai Hasson creative director of Portal A, who introduced the video and answered questions about it. He has directed the YouTube Rewind video both this year and the past few years.

After the panels, full episodes of Video Game High School and Lizzie Bennet Diaries screened on the Crest’s big screen. “Look! @TheAshleyClem and @thatjuliacho are HUGE at#TopDigitalContent!,” tweeted Margaret Dunlap @spyscribe, writer on Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Emporium Thai
Emporium Thai

Emporium Thai hosted our VIP / reception, and announced winners of attendees who posted their Twitter / Instagram photos of the event: Jason Okuma wins a complimentary massage package at its Aqua Thai Spa. All Digital LA members and friends can get a 15% discount at Emporium Thai or its adjacent Aqua Thai spa by mention Digital LA and showing a tweet or Instagram post with @EmporiumThai#EmporiumThai or #AquaThaiSpa with purchase of a dinner or massage services.

Thanks to our speakers, the Television Academy Interactive Media Peer Group, and Emporium Thai which hosted our VIP / Speaker Reception, and Crest Theatre for hosting.

Thanks to our audience and speakers for amazing tweets!

RT @stylehaulsteph Loved doing the keynote for #TopDigitalContent @digitalla @stylehaul ! So proud of this amazing space

RT @joakimbaage Top MCNs at #TopDigitalContent event agrees that MCN model has evolved to the point that they don’t like the term anymore @alistdaily.