After partnering with beauty guru Michelle Phan to launch her lifestyle network ICON, YouTube production house Endemol Beyond announced yesterday it will be launching two new digital networks—Looksy and Smasher—starring such talent as Jesse Wellens (PrankvsPrank), Toby Turner, Andy Milonakis, comedian Brittany Furlan, and American Idol alum Jessica Sanchez.
“The value [Endemol] brings to the table is the global production,” Phan said during the network’s press event in New York. “We are the Internet generation; we know how to create content for this generation. Endemol can give creators a new place to call home.”
Looksy—which will focus on everything pop culture, including music, sketch comedy, fashion, and trends—announced original shows such as True Internet Stories, set to investigate the origins of the Internet’s biggest moments; Andy Milonakis 2.0; and Bad Girl with Furlan. When asked about the difference between working with MTV and Endemol, Milonakis shared: “TV comes and goes, and it’s great to be a part of, but I love the instant gratification of YouTube. At the end of a show, that audience base is wiped clean, but you can grow a big online audience and they never go away.”
Adapted from successful U.K. shows, the Smasher network will focus on everything sports and video games. Toby Turner will star in the series Legends of Gaming, where he’ll use his overpowering voice to challenge YouTubers to a game-off (fingers crossed Andy Milonakis makes an appearance). Costarring with Turner as the face of this new network, Jesse Wellens will challenge pro athletes to ridiculous sports challenges in his own series, Rule’M Sports.
Among other projects on the network’s plate is a continued partnership with Mr. Worldwide himself, Pitbull, who will unveil two new series later this year: Master Class and Pitbull Presents later this year. Both shows will follow Pitbull’s adventures around the world and give an unprecedented look into the lives of the people who make Pitbull’s jetsetting lifestyle possible.
Relatively unknown until this year, Endemol has become one of the fastest-growing networks chiefly because of its strategic partnership with Michelle Phan, a creator previously hesitant to sign with a multichannel network, or MCN. “For the longest time, I kind of avoided the MCN markets because, coming from the creator’s point of view, I heard they weren’t really happy joining the MCNs,” says Phan. “When I met with Endemol Beyond, they had a freshness, a clean slate, and they said they’d build whatever [I] want to build. It showed me that they valued me because the fact that they trusted in me, someone who does come from the Internet generation and create content for them, trusting me to help build out this business made me realize they were the right fit and the right partner.”
It’s a tough moment to be the new MCN on the block, especially when networks such as Maker Studios and the Collective Digital Studio have had years to scope the scene for the best and brightest YouTube talent. But what Keenan argues will set Endemol apart from others is its mission to be a “PCN”—premium channel network—offering the best experiences not only to creators but also to brands looking to create content across all platforms.
Screengrab via PitbullVEVO/YouTube