Brut., the leading digital news publisher in Europe, recently launched a millennials-skewing streaming service, BrutX, and has just raised $75 million from James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, François-Henri Pinault’s Artemis, Orange Ventures and Tikehau Capital.
Guillaume Lacroix, the well-respected French producer and visionary co-founder and CEO of Brut. told Variety that this new investment will allow the company to “accelerate and expand its activities in markets such as the U.S., India and Africa,” as well as diversify its content with a renewed focus on cultural and social impact issues like gender, inclusion, feminism, the environment, race, entertainment and health. The service will seek to invest between 50-to-100 million euros in content within the next two years, according to an industry insider.
The service delivers sharp, concise video news, often interviews with a conversational and authentic tone that are shared on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Twitch and Snapchat. last year, Brut. reached 20 billion video views, driven by exclusive interviews with high-profile figures such as French President Emmanuel Macron and Apple Chairman Tim Cook.
Lacroix said the four-year old service (co-founded by fellow TV producer Renaud Le Van Kim) was already profitable in France and has been growing fast in the U.S., where it currently ranks four on the list of the most viewed pages on Facebook, and is the top online media source in India, ahead of the largest local media groups. The digital-native service, which ranks first in France and Europe, is free and relies on advertising.
BrutX, meanwhile, is priced at €4.99 per month and dedicated to series, documentaries and films. Lacroix said the streamer has already reached one-third of its recruitment target in just three months. He said three-quarters of the new service’s subscribers were “recruited organically.”
“What we have found is that people around the world are increasingly interested in content that’s socially- or politically-minded and we’re tapping into this demand,” said Lacroix, who added that today’s millennials – known as Gen Z — were particularly involved in these issues and were drawn by thought-provoking content that spark discussions. He said the outfit’s drive to step into fiction programs was a natural evolution because movies and series have the power to bring about social progress, as well as inspire and open people’s minds. “Ultimately, fiction can shape popular culture in a way that non-scripted rarely achieves,” said Lacroix.
“The success of BrutX shows us that there is room for a new streaming player that’s highly curated and offers edgy content that is complementary to other mainstream services on the market,” said Lacroix. He pointed out that the streamer features scripted and non-scripted content that is often correlated to content showcased on Brut, allowing subscribers to continue exploring issues tackled in the short-form videos.
BrutX’s first slate of original productions include Javier Ambrossi and Javier Calvo’s “Veneno,” the HBO Max series about the unbridled life of La Veneno, the Spanish transgender and LGBTQ icon of the 90s. Lacroix said the company was looking to use Blockchain technology to share revenue with talented filmmakers and creators who will create original content for the service. The streamer will also be making acquisitions for France and other French-speaking territories in Europe.
Speaking of the stellar track records of Murdoch and Pinault, Lacroix said their involvement in Brut. was not only financial. “Having allies with such depth of knowledge and expertise will help us bolster our global development,” said Lacroix.
Lacroix also pointed out that Orange Ventures was a great partner to have on board because it has a strong presence in Africa. “We’re currently expanding in French-speaking Africa but also in Latin America and Europe, particularly in Germany and England,” said Lacroix.