Machinima, the digitally-focused service focused on gamers and fandom, has moved ahead with a rebranding and a revised strategy spanning content and distribution.
The shift, which comes about two years after Warner Bros acquired Machinima, is about much more than a logo change, tying into a larger strategy that will enable Machinima to focus on gamers and continue to extend well beyond its YouTube roots.
A major strategic priority out of the rebrand is to ensure that Machinima is “laser-focused on the gamer audience,” said Russell Arons, who was named general manager of Machinima about a year ago. “Machinima, over the past couple of years became a little more broad in how it was focusing. I wanted to bring it back to gamers.”
At last check, Machinima’s service has about 140 million monthly uniques.
To strengthen its connection with its core audience, Machinima will lavish more attention on the white-hot eSports market (keeping tabs on online and physical tournaments and events), shoring up partnerships with major game publishers, creating digitally-driven stories about characters from popular gaming titles, and working more closely with talent and influencers from the gaming community.
“It’s really [about] keeping our eye on the gaming audience,” Arons said. “We wanted to reestablish our relationship with talent and connecting them into the core of Machinima more than ever.”
Machinima’s talent network is being realigned to focus the development of content and new channels in four content areas: Action/First Person Shooters; Role Playing Games; Fighting/Sports games; and Sandbox games.
Changes in that direction include the combination of the head of Machinima’s talent network with the head of its owned-and-operated channels and programming.
“We’re connecting the dots between these two groups more than ever,” Arons said, adding that the talent base will start to appear at increasing frequencies in Machinima’s programming.
The rebrand also comes as Machinima continues to diversify its distribution strategy well beyond YouTube using a blend of short- and long-form programming.
That includes a linear-style 24/7 offering on Twitch, the Amazon-owned streaming service that debuted last November, and working with internal partners like The CW.
Machinima has also forged linkages with Facebook Watch in the form of three shows – Co-Op Connection (a gamer-focused dating show); Dank/Fire (a humor offering for that audience); and Action Figures Comics (a series dedicated to comics, superheroes and fandom). Machinima plans to launch two more Facebook series this spring: Gaming Rap Battles and Win, Mine or Die.
“We want to be anywhere the gamers are…and tap into audiences that maybe we necessarily haven’t found on YouTube,” Arons said.
Machinima has also teed up a new slate of programming that includes Machinima: Game On (exclusive gamer fan programs and tournaments at events such as PAX South, E3, and TwitchCon); Body Count Fighting (a focus on titles such as Injustice 2, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Tekken, including live eSports tournaments every 6-8 weeks); VR Power Hour (focused on virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality); and Game Night (billed as a next-gen online LAN party.)
There’s now also a tighter integration with Warner Bros. and its studio divisions, such as WB Pictures, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, DC Entertainment and The CW.
“Machinima is building on a solid foundation that is resonating with its growing audience while celebrating the best fandoms and gamer content,” Craig Hunegs, president of business and strategy, Warner Bros. Television Group, and president of Warner Bros. Digital Networks, said in a statement. “This rebranding highlights Machinima as one of the most unique and successful platforms in the industry.”
More about Machinima’s rebrand and revised strategy will be features in the Platforms section of the Feb. 19 issue of Multichannel News.