Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Interview with Allison Kingsley, BushLeague.TV
Today, BushLeague.TV (www.bushleague.tv), is launching its online site video and web site for "dudes." The site is backed by DECA, an online entertainment studio which is venture funded by Mayfield, General Catalyst, and Atomico. The new site is the latest for DECA, which is also behind the video podcasts for the popular BoingBoing blog site, CNET's Dog and Pony Show, and other video podcasts and blogs. We spoke with Allison Kingsley, the site's General Manager and former Executive Director of the Groundlings Theater comedy club, along with DECA's Michael Wayne .
Thanks for the interview. Who is the target audience for the new site?
Allison Kingsley: The audience is the quintessential male, in the 18 to 35 year old demographic. It's about guys, for guys. I'm pretty much the only woman working on the site, which is done by guys.
Who's behind the site and involved in the production?
Allison Kingsley: It was created by myself and my husband, Matt Kirsch. We're the producing team. My background is in traditional media. I was executive director at the Groundlings Theater, where I was for seven years. I came from the comedy club and theater realm, and then transitioned to product cable and television. Over the last year and a half, I got really excited about the innovation happening online, especially when it came to comedic content. We felt that the new voices which were really resonating with the young male demographic were increasingly happening on broadband, instead of television. So, we did a transition quite a while ago and found a great partner in DECA, which could bring together our vision of what would be a great, exciting project for the male demographic. They also were able to bring in the technical support and expertise to the site as well.
How'd you connect with DECA?
Michael Wayne: It was through the grapevine. We had a mutual friend, , they came in, we thought they had great ideas, and that started a couple of months of development where we took the beginnings of the idea and crafted it into what you will see on Wednesday.
It's interesting how comedy seems to be the hot spot online for new content--there seem to be a lot of new comedy sites launching nowadays. How does this compare?
Allison Kingsley: What makes us different from those sites is we're about information. What really started to resonate for us was to create a site for guys, which is clearly a big, rich pool. My background is in comedy, and my husband is a comedy writer, which gives the site a comedic skew. But, what we think we do is bring information to the demographic in a really entertaining way, which is different from what has been happening out here now.
Michael Wayne: At DECA, we are not interested in scripted comedy. We don't do anything scripted. We are not interested in an also-ran, scripted comedy producer. Instead, we felt the need in the market to create something that would be daily, informative, and speak directly to a young male audience, who like to get their information in ways that are funny. We are talking about information first, funny second.
So comedy is just an enabler for the site then?
Allison Kingsley: Exactly. We want to give information in an entertaining way. We have one segment that we shot recently, which is an ongoing format--it's a 24-hour, video game review where we take one of our young writers and producers, and get a brand new release for a video game. They play it for 24 hours straight. Periodically, every hour, they give tips about the game. After 24 hours, they give a summary review of the game. Clearly, it gets really hilarious at hour 18, and things happen that you can't really anticipate. We then edit it down, and truncate those 24 hours into a succinct segment.
Michael Wayne: The other interesting point on the 24-hour video review is we stream it live, although it's a 3-5 minute review whe it's finally edited. While the video game is being reviewed, people can cheer on the reviewer. For the pre-launch, we went for the Guiness Book of World Records for the new GTA IV release, and believe we'll be getting it validated in a month.
So video games are a big component of your programming?
Allison Kingsley: Absolutely. It's all about guys. Technology, gadgets, sports, lifestyle, fitness, and girls. It's really anything that resonated with young guys.
What other segments do you have planned?
Allison Kingsley: Another segment we have will be Bush League 101. It's a how-to link for guys, from how to host a poker night, to how to go on a road trip -- the list goes on and on. We have a format called "Can I Stilll Eat It." We have a nutritionist go into a young guy's apartment, and examine their fridge. There are probably things in their fridge that are a little questionable, and we'll give him nutritional advice and tell him if he can still eat it. If he can, he does. We have Gadget Slob, which is a technology review and gadget review show. The host on that is John Walsh, who is a producer form G4. We also have a segment called Generic Gambler, which will feature sports picks. We also have a segment called Gut, where we'll take things apart.
Michael Wayne: We literally take TVs, computers, your Tivo, and cars and take them apart. It's what every guy likes doing.
Allison Kingsley: We'll also have information on the technology side, and we'll even try to put them back together.
Michael Wayne: The features will include lots and lots of video, and logs of blog posting as well. The other most important feature is there is voting on the site -- you can vot up or down the videos or blog posts. It's kind of neat and adds an interactive element, so it's not just consuming content.
Allison, having done traditional media, can you tell us what's good and bad about the online format?
Allison Kingsley: My experience with the online format has been motivating. From a content perspective, it's incredibly freeing. Our partnership and collaboration with DECA is supportive, and it allows talent and contributors to really go out and tell their stories, and give the information in their way, in their personal view. That will really resonate, in a good way.
What's the distribution strategy for BushLeague?
Michael Wayne: The strategy for all of our properties, is to look for promotional partners. You can see our other sites and videos on the usual suspects -- the YouTubes, iTunes, and other mid-tier blogs and videos, as we want to push as far and wide as possible. But we're also looking to partner on premium distribution partners. On the very large sites this is a much more integrated partnership, and we have a number of discussions with partners ongoing. We're hoping over the coming weeks we'll have a major premium partnership in place.
So this is more about sponsorships than CPM?
Michael Wayne: The business model is advertising and sponsorship. There's a couple of big partners we've talked to, about being really exclusive partners. For example, this might be a very large web site that targets the young male, or a big portal that has a section of their site targeting young males. We've had some pretty lengthy conversations with partners, and though there's a buzz around what we're doing, we're looking to launch and grow it organically. However, if we get a big premium sponsor, that's fine, too.