Ron Bloom doesn’t give up. Bloom has been trying to put his mark on online entertainment ever since he launched an online podcasting network called Podshow.com close to a decade a go with podcasting pioneer Adam Curry. Podshow underwent a big rebranding in 2008, when it became Mevio.com.
Now, Bloom is trying again with a new name and a new physical home: Mevio is currently being transformed to become Bitesize Entertainment, and it’s about to move into a new studio space in the heart of Hollywood: The new studio is being built in the W Hotel at Hollywood and Vine, and will feature seven sets on 8,000 square feet. Bloom wants to embrace that location, and eventually take his company to one billion video views a month in 2013.
Botox, astrology, girl gamers
It’s been a wild ride for Bloom and his team. Podshow began as a podcasting network, and in 2008 transformed into something Bloom called a “bad YouTube” when I met him in San Francisco earlier this month. The site tried various angles on becoming an online video destination, including original content geared towards a tech audience, outsourced producing and finally a set of channels geared towards a mainstream audience that is the blueprint for the new Bitesize approach.
In a nutshell, Bitesize is going to launch six channels with broad categories like entertainment, guys, comedy, women and video games. Each of these channels with host a number of shows with short, two to five minute episodes. “I just want 10 minutes of your time,” said Bloom.
He was quite honest about the content being “good enough,” and unapologetically mainstream. He told me that Bitesize is currently producing 30 to 40 shows, and that he has pilots for 50 more. Shows will tackle subjects like Botox, relationship advice, astrology, cars and girl gamers.
Doing it the L.A. way
So why go to Hollywood? Mevio had a studio in San Francisco’s SoMa district, but moved all of its production down south this fall. Part of this has to do with being closer to the world of entertainment, and being able to invite stars and starlets to do interviews in the studio. Part of it is motivated by Bloom going into the film business, a move that he first announced at Cannes earlier this year.
Bitesize is even doing a show about building its studio:
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But it’s also a cultural thing. Essentially, Bloom thinks that people in the Bay Area don’t get entertainment. His biggest pet peeve may be the idea of viral videos. Bloom doesn’t want to wait for videos to go viral — he wants to pay to have people come to his site. “60 cents of a dollar” are going to be spent on marketing, he told me. And once people know about the site and get addicted to its content, they’re gonna come back, he hopes.
A new wave of professionally produced content
Bloom’s persistence hasn’t come cheap over the years: His company has raised a total of $38.9 million over three rounds of funding, and also tapped into $10 million of debt financing earlier this year. Bloom told me that his operation is profitable and that he doesn’t need to raise any more money to finish the studio and rebranding. However, he acknowledged meeting with people “interested in helping us accelerate our growth,” as he put it.
Whether all that money will actually help to finally turn Bloom’s company into an entertainment powerhouse remains to be seen. But if anything, Bitesize opening its doors in Hollywood is another sign for a new wave of professionally produced content, with a number of players trying to make a mark in 2013.
This includes YouTube, which recently opened its own big studio space in Los Angeles, and whose million-dollar advances have attracted many content makers to step up their game. However, Bloom argues that Google just doesn’t have entertainment in its DNA, which is why he doesn’t feel threatened by the competition from YouTube. If anything YouTube spending millions on content is a validation.