Break Pushes Original Content…Again

Break Media announced today it had formed an “internal development and production organization” called Creative Lab. But this is hardly the first time Break has gone down the original content route.

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Founded in 1998, Break has bought exclusive rights to video from users and professionals since early on. As for some specific original content initiatives, the company announced a deal in March ’07 to create a show about girls demolishing things called Breakers with NBC (though I’m not sure what happened with that — I can’t find any episodes), and followed up with a deal to make a show about breaking world records called Record Breakers with Endemol (an episode is embedded above). Then during the writers’ strike, Break actively solicited picketing writers to make material.

But then in January of last year, Break announced its strength was in advertising, not video, and expanded its mission to be an ad network for men’s sites, acquiring and launching additional non-video properties (though Break remained its main site). Break CEO Keith Richman told us “When we thought about how to expand the business it wasn’t about the video world, it’s not ‘Hey we can do content deals.’”

But that seems to have been hyperbole meant to push the ad network, because Break continued to create both branded and original entertainment content. The company said today its revenue grew 100 percent in 2008, with stronger growth from branded content. However, it wasn’t all sunny, as Break laid off 11 of 80 employees across various units in October.

So it seems like this latest original content initiative is hardly a big change, unless it’s from the recent ad-network focus. Break said today it has already attracted 35 million views “in the past few months” for content it has produced.

What seems to be the difference this time around is Break has brought its creatives in-house, naming them as editorial and production executives. But giving content creators full-time roles doesn’t always pay off, as we saw with Revision3, which last year targeted layoffs at show hosts it had made into content execs.

Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of video sites that produce online content that appeals to young men, among them Crackle, Spike, ManiaTV, CollegeHumor and Vimby.