Funny Or Die Launching YouTube Channel, HBO, Film

Funny Or Die, which has held steadfastly to a destination site strategy over the last two and a half years, will finally launch its own YouTube channel in November, COO Mitch Galbraith said on a panel I moderated today at Digital Media Conference West. Also in the works are 12 half-hour shows of sketches, segments and mini-shows of original Funny or Die Presents for HBO and a feature-length film, he said.

Galbraith said that Funny or Die feels it now has a mature enough brand that it can send content to YouTube without sacrificing its own site. Plus, YouTube is “publisher friendly” (read: he got a good deal). That’s not to say Funny or Die has been anti-syndication. It has always provided an embeddable player, and gets an average of 15 percent of its views on embedded players, which shoots up to 60-70 percent for some highly viral videos.

Funny or Die makes more than $10 million on advertising a year, Galbraith said, half of that from branded content (both sponsored videos and campaigns around that content). He pointed to two recent successful examples of a health care PSA for MoveOn that got 2.8 million views and an episode of Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis that inserted an awkward (in a good way) product placement for EA Sports.

While Funny or Die may have de-emphasized user uploads since it first launched, the site considers discovering talent a “critical” part of its success, said Galbraith. He said a Funny or Die director now has a deal with Sony, and a writer has since moved on to Saturday Night Live.

I asked Galbraith whether Funny or Die was planning to make different content for every platform, given its ongoing work developing a premium TV show and a movie. What about over-the-top web video? Galbraith said he is certainly interested in putting web content in a different venue, but he feels the connected living room is a little too nascent. He’s waiting for a “channel of choice” to emerge, he said, as well as an audience that’s big enough to make money from.

Updated: This story was clarify the description of Funny or Die Presents.

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