BroadbandTV Claims No. 1 MCN Spot, Topping Disney’s Maker Studios

RTL Group-owned BBTV grew global desktop views 152% in December 2015, according to comScore

broadbandtv - RCLBeauty101
Courtesy of BroadbandTV

BroadbandTV is grabbing bragging rights as digital video’s biggest global multichannel network, citing new data showing its audience and views have surpassed Disney’s Maker Studios, Fullscreen and Machinima.

BBTV had nearly 319 million worldwide unique viewers for December 2015 — 30% more than its nearest MCN competitor, Maker — according to comScore’s worldwide desktop report for the month. Total views grew 152% year over year, to 2.73 billion in December. That’s compared with Maker’s 2.4 billion, Fullscreen’s 1.85 billion and Machinima’s 1.46 billion, per comScore estimates.

“We’ve created the largest and most scalable video ecosystem, and we’ve done so with a fraction of the capital that other players have raised,” BroadbandTV founder and CEO Shahrzad Rafati said.

There are some caveats on BroadbandTV’s claims. For starters, the comScore figures exclude mobile and connected-TV viewing. But Rafati said BBTV also ranks No. 1 by other measures: According to Google Analytics, BBTV had 14 billion monthly impressions in January 2016 across all platforms, representing a 219% year-over-year increase.

It’s also worth noting that BBTV still trails far behind music-video service Vevo in terms of total views, according to comScore. For December, Vevo had 7.7 billion desktop views, nearly three times BroadbandTV, and 305 million uniques (slightly behind BBTV).

Meanwhile, just because an MCN boasts a large number of views is no guarantee that it’s successfully minting money more effectively than others. BBTV, which is majority owned by entertainment conglomerate RTL Group, does not disclose revenue; Rafati claimed the company is beating its internal sales projections and that revenue “has been growing along the same lines as our views.”

BBTV is rolling up the global numbers from a diverse collection of properties, which include its deals to identify and claim user-uploaded content on YouTube on behalf of copyright holders (such as with corporate cousin FremantleMedia). But Rafati said virtually all of the MCN’s growth in 2015 was organic. The company’s only significant acquisition came last April, when BroadbandTV acquired YoBoHo, operator of the HooplaKidz children’s MCN on YouTube.

BBTV’s expansion has been driven by a focus on five key vertical segments, according to Rafati: entertainment, gaming, news, kids and music. “We are not going after 20 different verticals,” she said. “We really understand what all of our creators and partners need in terms of tools and monetization.”

The multichannel network’s top creators include Rclbeauty101, 20-year-old beauty vlogger Rachel Levin (pictured above), who has over 6.5 million subscribers; Davey Wavey, a leading LGBT personality; Fernanfloo, BBTV’s largest gaming creator with over 9 million subs; and music group Major Lazer, whose 2015 hit “Lean On” topped 1 billion video views last year.

Key BBTV brands include gaming network TGN; hip-hop music network Opposition; electronic dance music video network Wimsic; HooplaKidz; and Outspeak, a news network launched in partnership with AOL’s Huffington Post. Last summer, BBTV announced a pact with BMG to create Windfall, a venture aiming to provide an array of digital services to music artists.

“We’ve really focused on building strong media brands around the growth verticals that millennials care about,” Rafati said.

BBTV now produces about 500 original video assets per month in-house; its network of about 74,000 creators post about 500,000 new videos per month. The MCN operates in 15 global markets, focusing marketing efforts on partnerships (such as with HuffPost) and a grassroots approach to creating communities of interest.

All told, that’s given BroadbandTV the lead in the MCN space, according to the company’s crunching of the comScore numbers. BBTV’s global count of 318.98 million unique viewers for December 2015 puts it ahead of Maker Studios (246.1 million); Otter Media’s Fullscreen (192.8 million); Warner Bros.-backed Machinima (160.2); and Studio71 (93.4 million), the MCN owned by ProSiebenSat.1 that merged with Collective Digital Studio last year.

In addition, BBTV was the fifth-largest Internet video operator globally by unique monthly desktop viewers in December per comScore, after Google (924.9 million), Facebook (617.0 million), and China’s Sohu.com (381.0 million) and LeTV (338.6 million).

Pictured: Rclbeauty101’s Rachel Levin, one of BroadbandTV’s top creators.