“Hey Emil! We were creating our fantasy dinner party guest list last night, and at the end, the only men on the list were Demetri Martin, Obama, Jay-Z, Mark Zuckerberg and you. Will send you an invite to dinner in a bit — guest list might change a little.”—Anonymous
“Speaking of EPIX, I was with a few friends over the weekend and they were talking about “this new channel…EPIX” and how great it’s OnDemand was. I was like “guys, I told you about this shit over a year ago””—Jay C. Muller
Just in time, too. The company did 2,000,000,000.00 views last month, in the shortest month of the year. That’s 2 BILLION in February of 2011. It’s also been EBITDA positive for the past 6 months…
But how did it all begin?
"Holy shit! People are actually watching video podcasts! Our video podcasts!"
That was the moment for me when Next New Networks was born. Now, to convince smart people to help — because I’ve got one of the shortest attention spans in the world. Fred was in. The great instigator that he is. He’s always in for a good idea (And this was arguably a great idea.) Tim Shey was up next. He was fucking around with his consulting business and it was time for him to do another start-up. Easy conversion — and a wonderful visionary, influencer to have on the team. Fred said “We need Jed”
Oh, right, that guy who I do consulting work with for that massive global media conglomerate run by that lunatic. Yeah, he smart. Let’s get him. (Jed was in because I promised to stop mocking his hybrid SUV.) Up next: Mark Greenberg. Mark is one of the smartest cable TV deal makers I’ve ever met. Sadly for Next New Networks, he had other things going on at the time.
"Think Herb will come play, too? He’s unemployed."
Now let’s get some dough.
I remember, very clearly, in the first meeting with the venture community regarding Next New Networks saying 2 things:
1) “We need $150,000,000.00 to make this work” (Which I never said again out loud)
2) “Fuck you.” (Which I say hourly)
Still, they let me continue talking to the venture folks and there but through the grace of God, went us. Spark, Saban, Balderton and a few friends and family folks shot the lock off the ol’ wallet and sent money. More money than we thought we’d get.
In the first year, we were really spiraling. The industry was changing by the minute. The players hadn’t congealed. We still though blip was going to be huge, and libsyn the next Akamai. We thought we needed production company partners. Herb tried to keep us micro-television n00bs focused and delivering. ”Find the stars.” ”Play the hits.” ”Don’t spend so much.” ”Manage expectations.” ”Deliver on time.” ”What did Fred say?”
If we didn’t have his leadership, we’d still be spinning in circles.
We hired Justin Johnson at a breakfast in Silicon Valley when we were out fundraising… before we even had raised funds. Employee #001.
Corinne Leigh and Rob Czar pitched us our first greenlit indie show, then later joined to run ThreadBanger.
Liam Collins joined the party. As did Vanessa Pappas. And Ben Relles. Who became key shapers of what Next New Networks was to become.
A great team was formed, who over the last few years included Justin Johnson, Kenny Herman, Erik Beck, Halley Hopkins, Alan Kaufman, Michelle DeForest, Mary Modica, Jeaux Janovsky, Jessica Hricisak, Matt Falconieri, Dustin Link, Marc Goldberg, Erin Flood, George Stewart, Jared Roessler, David Sauter, Roy Langbord, David Karp, Rachel Eakley, Marco Arment, Jodi Yeager, Gloria Collett, Mike Spinelli, Felicia Williams, Rob Czar, Corinne Leigh, Mark Boxser, Roy Weissman, Scott Moschella, Ramon DeSouza, JF Musial, Rachel Garcia, Pete Simmons, Thom Albrecht, Diane deCordova, Patty DeArteaga, Mike Glenn, Lindsey Chen, Lillian Collado, Lee Rubenstein, Gene Sanchez, Kathleen Grace, Ian Jenkins, Jeremy Kutner, Matt Farah, and that guy Joe.
I left the day to day shortly after Herb, and have been the Chief Digital Officer at EPIX for over 2 years. From my post at the only cable network that puts more programming online than on-air, I’ve had the unique privilege of having co-created one of the first businesses in the Internet television space — and one of the fastest-to-profitable networks on the not-Internet television space.
It’s been a wild couple of years.
Of course, starting things is not without learning, so here now, from the home office at 419 Park Avenue South…
The Top Ten things I learned at Next New Networks:
10) If content is king, then creators are deities.
9) More people will spend more minutes watching more video on a computer/tablet/phone today than they did yesterday…
8) The word “content” should be referred to as “the other c-word”. Don’t be in the content business. Be in the “Hits” business. Don’t make content. Make hits!
7) Always be the low-cost provider.
6) Super-distribution… because who doesn’t want to be super?
5) Raising prices is the hardest thing you can do, so stand firm, be prepared to not get paid, and keep growing. They’ll come around eventually.
4) There’s 4 ways to evaluate quality: Script, performance, production, delivery. All of them are subjective. None of them are ever enough.
3) Reject the first offer.
2) Never listen to anyone who says, “That’s how we do it in Hollywood!”