Updated with comments from Albie Hecht and George Kliavkoff.
Albie Hecht, the former president of Nickelodeon, has raised $9 million and secured distribution deals for Worldwide Biggies, his young adult- and family-focused digital studio. Worldwide Biggies is not exclusively devoted to online productions, though web distribution is a part of all of its projects.
“We birth things online but make sure they have multi-platform DNA so they can be transported elsewhere,” said Hecht in an interview Monday. That means constraining itself a smaller budget — a.k.a. lots of green screens — and having the agility to quickly incorporate viewer feedback. “We can constantly be version 3 the day after version 2,” he said.
NBC Universal, Hearst Corp., Greycroft, Platform Equity, and PrismVentureWorks invested in the company, which already has a hit under its belt with The Naked Brothers Band TV series (accompanied by webisodes and podcasts) for Nickelodeon. Other projects include the dog video contest portal WorldwideFido.com and, launching, Wednesday STARVSSTAR.com, “where fantasy sports meets celebrity scandal” in partnership with TMZ. The company also has deals to produce webisode series for IFILM and Spike TV, and is working on an online game.
NBC, in addition to investing in the Series A round, will have the opportunity to distribute and sell advertising against Worldwide Biggies projects in “film, television, theatrical, home video, merchandising, platform or console gaming and mobile,” according to an emailed press release. It will have Worldwide Biggies’ help on “branded entertainment solutions for marketing clients.”
NBC plans to partner with and potentially invest in additional digital entertainment studios, with Worldwide Biggies being the first and additional deals in the works, said George Kliavkoff, chief digital officer at NBC Universal, in an interview Monday.
Worldwide Biggies differs from other recent projects we’ve covered involving big media makers jumping online — such as My Damn Channel, Funny Or Die, Vuguru, 60Frames, and to some extent Next New Networks — in that it’s been out for a year now just doing its thing. It doesn’t hurt that Hecht wins a lot of converts from his track record on television.
Worldwide Biggies, which operates out of a studio in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, has 12 employees and was previously self-funded by Hecht.