The Hollywood Reporter is posing the very real question Does FunnyOrDie need Will to live?, noting that traffic to the site plummets when the Anchorman star isn’t uploading new material. Powered by Ferrell’s viral sensation The Landlord, the site debuted with 4.5 million uniques in April, only to drop 81 percent over the next four months.
Ferrell is not the site’s only star power. Since The Landlord , FunnyorDie has gone on to launch other celeb-driven shorts, with appearances by Danny DeVito, Brooke Shields and Jenna Elfman. None of them really moved the needle, though, until the appearance of a fake sex tape featuring Eva Longoria (2.7 million streams and counting). But you can guess why that did big numbers.
The article is a fair rundown of the problems facing any hit-driven business. But when I spoke to FunnyorDie Production Manager Amy Rhodes last month, she was totally aware of the challenges facing the site. She, like many other online video destinations, considered 100,000 plays in a week for a celebrity piece a hit, and recognized that user-generated content would take longer to reach that number.
FunnyorDie was a victim of its own early success, but it’s not time to put the toe tag on it yet.