Big Frame brands top channels together as Forefront

YouTube multichannel network also partnering with Vibe

A leading content producer for new media is repositioning itself with an old-media emphasis on branded networks.

Big Frame, which is among the top 10 multichannel networks in terms of traffic on YouTube according to Comscore, is taking some of the top stars among its 140 channels and grouping them together under the brand Forefront. Household names among the YouTube set under Big Frame management like DeStorm Power and Mike Diva will be combined with content from hip-hop publishing venture Vibe as part of a channel featuring multicultural talent in scripted and unscripted formats.

Steve Raymond, CEO of Big Frame, always saw his company moving from its current orientation focused on talent management to an approach that may find more traction with advertisers accustomed to marketing at scale in a brand-driven fashion. “When we started Big Frame in 2011, we always envisioned going in this direction,” he said. “It’s very similar to what media companies on TV do, like at Viacom or NBCUniversal.”

Big Frame is pursuing a strategy more vertically oriented than other bigger MCNs in the space like Maker Studios and Fullscreen, which have thousands of channels and less emphasis on funneling them into overarching brands, though some of that does go on.

Forefront will also curate like-minded programming from YouTube that doesn’t originate from Big Frame. In addition to advertising that Big Frame will sell, revenue will also come in from merchandising and events that leverage Forefront’s on-air personalities.

Forefront is expected to be followed by the launch of two more unspecified branded verticals early next year that could also have established media brands attached. Inserting brands that advertisers are already comfortable with could help Big Frame, which Raymond says has attracted plenty of attention from companies best known offline like Vibe.