Why Big Frame’s Chris Erwin Says MCNs Are a “Bit of a Misnomer”

Multi-Channel Networks–or MCNs–seem to be the buzz in entertainment tech, and are catching the eye of investors. But what exactly are MCNs, and why should the podcasting industry take note of them?

Chris Erwin, Head of Operations for Big Frame, is Adam’s guest for episode 65 of The Wolf Den, helping us get a clearer picture.

First, Chris explains that today, “MCN is a bit of a misnomer.” The first MCNs came about when YouTube launched its Original Channels Initiative in 2011, where the company “dedicated a $200 million fund to create more premium content online.” This allowed the funded producers to create multiple channels of content. “They were working with different influencers, they were able to roll them up into a single content management system. That allowed these companies to do streamlined accounting, (and) streamlined payroll.”

Now, several years later, MCNs have evolved. Chris says that while companies like Machinima, Maker and Big Frame are called MCNs, that doesn’t define their business strategies. “We are media and entertainment companies, and everyone has a different angle. You see companies align around a certain industry, so (there is) Machinima with gaming, Style Haul with fashion, (and) Tastemade (is focused) around food.”

At Big Frame, Chris says, “We are a new-era entertainment company for teens and millennials. We want to be everywhere where teens and millennials are consuming content, whether that’s on YouTube, whether that’s on a mobile app, on a Roku app, if that’s an offline performance by influencers, or theatrical releases, you name it, we want to be there.”

The company creates owned-and-operated content brands, such as the fashion-oriented Polished and female-focused Wonderly.

Big Frame is also a “a 360 management company where we represent online influencers and creators,” focused on talent that is digital-first. The company manages the careers of big YouTube stars like Ingrid Nilsen, Tyler Oakley and Amanda Steele, but does not own any part of their channels. However, Big Frame does help their clients appear on the company’s branded channels.

As it turns out, a lot of these strategies seem to overlap with what podcast networks do, and how both businesses make money for their talent and creators.

Listen to the whole show to learn more about where this exciting world of digital-first content is going, and why the stars of big YouTube channels are getting into podcasting.

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