You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Maker Studios Launches Maker.tv, Tees Up Original Series from Morgan Spurlock and YouTube Stars

Maker Studios, the digital media company that Disney is buying for up to $950 million, unveiled a slate of original programming and took the wraps off Maker.tv — a consumer destination for monetizing video off YouTube.

At its first Digital Content NewFronts event Tuesday evening in New York, Maker showed off existing and new content across 23 vertical network categories for a crowd of ad execs and partners. That included the premiere of the next season of its “Epic Rap Battles of History” franchise and a new branded-content series from documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock.

Maker.tv will include premium content produced by Maker Studios that is not available on YouTube. The content on the website will be windowed, the MCN said.

As part of Disney, Maker will work with all of the Mouse House’s brands, said Maker exec chairman Ynon Kreiz, including Lucasiflm, Pixar, Marvel, ESPN, ABC and Disney itself. The combined Internet reach of Disney and Maker Studios will be behind only Google and Facebook, he said.

“Our mission is to empower creators and inspire expression,” Kreiz said at the NewFronts preso.

Added Maker chief content officer Erin McPherson: “We will access the Disney library to create all forms of new shortform content.”

SEE ALSO: Bob Iger Explains Why Disney Bought Maker Studios

McPherson, who joined Maker last fall from Yahoo, said she’s often asked what the MCN’s “House of Cards” will be. The company already has a tentpole in “Epic Rap Battles,” she said — a series that has generated 1.5 billion views to date, with an average of 30 million views per episode. “Those are numbers that would make broadcasters salivate,” McPherson said, as she introduced the “ERB” clip featuring ex-cop Rick Grimes from “The Walking Dead” vs. Walter White from “Breaking Bad.”

In addition, Maker announced a new programming model, Labs@Maker. Under that program, creators and brands will be able to co-create content with Maker, working with the MCN’s creative team and talent partners. This new model also provides data and insight tools for partners to receive real-time feedback with a comprehensive understanding on audience behavior and reactions.

SEE ALSO: Comedy Central’s ‘Key & Peele’ Team with Maker for Digital Comedy Series

Initial Labs@Maker partners include James Franco and partner Vince Jolivette’s Rabbit Bandini Prods.; Robert Kirkman’s Skybound, publisher of the comic that “The Walking Dead” is based on; X Games champion professional skateboarder Nyjah Huston; and musician and entrepreneur will.i.am, whose deal with Maker was announced earlier this year.

Maker also announced an agreement with ad-agency Omnicom Media Group, which has committed to a certain level of upfront ad spending on Maker properties. The MCN touted a new ad product, Maker Offers, which lets marketers tap directly into its network of 50,000 content creators for brand integration.

New series highlighted by Maker include:

“Ithamar Has Nothing to Say”: As previously announced, six-episode shortform comedy series follows a traveler exploring the U.S. for the first time, without speaking a single word. Series stars Ithamar Enriquez (“The Office”) and is produced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele of Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele,” Principato-Young Entertainment, Enriquez, and Frank Caeti.

“smartish”: Channel from Morgan Spurlock that is aimed at brands looking to produce content that will exclusively be curated by “smartish” talent across platforms. Show offerings include: “Consider the Source,” which will highlight economic, environmental and the often mysterious journeys familiar products take to get from factories and fields into our very own hands; and “How to Win at Life,” based on Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” to take a look at the science and hidden psychology behind everyday choices that may just be ruining your life.

“Over the Top”: Scripted series starring musician, actor and digital star Chester See as a struggling artist trying to make a name for himself in the L.A. music scene.

“ShayLife”: YouTube star Shay “ShayCarl” Butler, a longtime Maker talent, hosts docuseries that that gives everyday people a rejuvenated lease on life.

“Stampy School”: Online gamer Joseph Garrett (a.k.a. Stampylonghead) uses the popular Minecraft game for a new take on educational programming.

“Cri-Chic-Ing”: Style maven P’Trique and her friends dole out fashion feedback to unsuspecting pedestrians during Fashion Week.

“Oh, You Pretty Things!”: 10-episode series produced in partnership with Nylon TV, starring Francesca Eastwood and Alexander Nifong (“Pretty Little Liars”) about a group of 20-something trendsetters looking for their big break in the underground music and fashion scene in the Eastside of Los Angeles. All episodes of the series are set to premiere on Maker.tv and its YouTube fashion and beauty channel The Platform on May 19.

Maker’s NewFronts event was held at the Liberty Theater in Manhattan’s Times Square. The presentation featured appearances by talent include Spurlock, ShayCarl, Joseph Garrett, Nyjah Huston and Miss Piggy.

The event included live performances by will.i.am (featuring up-and-comer Cody Wise) and country-folk recording group The Gregory Brothers (who did a terrific cover of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball”).

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Elite Season 2

    San Sebastian: Spain’s SVOD Players Debate Competition, Brand, Talent

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Executives from HBO, Netflix, Amazon and Movistar+ and “Elite” co-creator Darío Madrona took to the stage to field questions on the Global Impact of Spanish Series. Here, briefly, are five takeaways: 1.Spain First “La Casa de Papel” was watched by 34,355,956 Netflix accounts over its first seven days,  after a July 19 [...]

  • Tinder - Swipe Night

    Tinder's Apocalyptic 'Swipe Night' Interactive Dating Show Sets Release Date

    Tinder next month will bow its first original entertainment content — “Swipe Night,” an interactive adventure series in which viewers are forced to make dating choices on humanity’s last night on Earth. Variety previously reported details of the location-based social network/dating app service’s foray into original content, which recently wrapped production in Mexico City and [...]

  • Editorial Use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    YouTube Rolls Back Verification Changes, Says Verified Creators Can Keep Their Badge

    A day after announcing significant changes to its verification program, YouTube announced Friday afternoon that it won’t be de-verifying existing creators after all. “We heard loud and clear how much the badge means to you,” said YouTube product manager Jonathan McPhie in a blog post. “Channels that already have the verification badge will now keep it [...]

  • BLive: BitTorrent Live Streaming App to

    BitTorrent to Launch Public Beta of New Live Streaming App

    BitTorrent is getting ready to open the floodgates for its new live streaming app, dubbed BitTorrent Live: The company plans to launch a BitTorrent Live Android app on various app stores as part of a public beta test late Friday, according to a spokesperson. BitTorrent Live, which is also known as BLive, is being described [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Facebook

    Facebook Suspends Tens of Thousands of Apps During Privacy Investigation

    Facebook has suspended tens of thousands of apps ever since it began investigating potential privacy abuses, the company said Friday. The apps in question had been built by around 400 developers, and a suspension doesn’t necessarily indicate actual privacy violations. Facebook began combing through millions of apps that made use of its platform after the [...]

  • tivo logo

    Tivo Plans to Launch Android TV Dongle, Tivo+ Curation App

    DVR maker Tivo is getting ready to release a new device that may not record television at all: The company plans to launch a $50 Roku-like TV dongle early next year, its new CEO Dave Shull revealed in a conversation with CNN this week. The new device will be powered by Google’s Android TV platform, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content