Case Study

A Little Anger, a Little Photoshop, a Lot of Hits

MyDamnChannel Has a Hit on Its Hands With Big Fat Brain's 'You Suck at Photoshop'

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The Creators: Matt Bledsoe and Troy Hitch, the founders of Big Fat Brain, a studio that produces Web series, including shows commissioned by brands, sites and corporate clients. Mr. Bledsoe and Mr. Hitch are best known for their hit online show "You Suck at Photoshop," the first season of which generated more than 10 million views earlier this year. In addition to "You Suck at Photoshop," the pair also created the branded entertainment series "Greg the Architect" for the software company Tibco, targeted to software architects at large corporations.

The Distributors: Big Fat Brain licenses "You Suck at Photoshop" to MyDamnChannel.com. The site, an online video destination focusing on comedic series, carries the show and also distributes it to YouTube, DailyMotion, MySpace, Imeem, Facebook and iTunes. Each episode is about six to eight minutes long. The first season of 10 episodes ran from December 2007 to April 2008. That season generated about 7.5 million views on YouTube and 2.5 million through MyDamnChannel. The second season began in late June and will also run for 10 episodes. In order to establish MyDamnChannel as the home base and the best site for advertisers, MyDamnChannel is carrying each episode this season exclusively for one week before releasing to distribution partners. For the first three episodes of the second season the show has yielded 500,000 views on MyDamnChannel and 225,000 on YouTube.

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The Sponsors: "You Suck at Photoshop" does not have a specific sponsor but MyDamnChannel sells ads for the site based on total views, many of which come from the "You Suck at Photoshop" audience. MyDamnChannel CEO Rob Barnett said he is currently in discussions with potential sponsors for "You Suck at Photoshop." The series is the site's most popular. "Views on our destination site and in syndication are driving revenues, megatraffic, brand heat, and a rabid community of fellow geeks who love to be tweaked," Mr. Barnett said. MyDamnChannel licenses the show and splits ad revenue 50-50 after production costs are recouped.

The Content: The show is a how-to tutorial on Photoshop conducted by "Donnie Hoyle," who's also known affectionately as "Angry Photoshop Guy." He's a Photoshop savant who works out his emotional problems during his tutorials. For instance, Donnie learned in a recent episode that he wasn't actually the father of his kid, so he demonstrated how to remove his name from a soccer jersey. The show's audience ranges from hardcore Photoshop users who enjoy the metaphors comparing Photoshop skills to life challenges to people who know nothing about the software but like the character. Mr. Bledsoe and Mr. Hitch said that even college professors have said they use the show to teach the software. The show earned three Webby awards this summer.

The Backstory: Mr. Bledsoe and Mr. Hitch developed the idea for the show about a year before the first episode premiered. Before the show even launched, they had already landed a deal with MyDamnChannel to produce Web programs. One day they created the first episode simply to deliver on their deal. "We created it to fulfill our obligation and they loved it and said keep going," Mr. Bledsoe said. The pair even created a spin-off series called "Sn4tchbuckl3r's Second Chance" with a secondary character from "You Suck at Photoshop" earning the starring role. That show drew 800,000 views with five episodes.

The Endgame: Mr. Bledsoe and Mr. Hitch want to make a living creating content. "We want to figure out this confluence of brands, communications, Web content—how we can make it lucrative for guys like us," Mr. Hitch said. The two of them have an advantage over other Web creators because they already have a hit series. Mr. Bledsoe and Mr. Hitch attribute the success to the fact that's the program is original and doesn't rely on a cute girl to tell the story. "If you're into the story that's because you're into the story," Mr. Hitch said. "What we are trying to be is highly targeted and go after a very specific audience. We want quality views over quantity views."
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