If you’re a producer curious about what type of content Above Average is looking for in the wake of today’s news that it has secured $15 million in funding from Turner Broadcasting and Advance Vixeid Partners (the investment arm of Advance Publications, parent company of Condé Nast), the digital comedy studio has a simple answer for you.
“We’re comedy first, obviously, so we’re interested in what we think is funny — that doesn’t change — whether it’s from people in traditional [media] or coming out of emerging platforms,” said Jennifer Danielson, president Above Average. “I think there’s tremendous value in both places.”
Launched in 2012, Above Average was incubated by Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video Ventures, producer of such shows as “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”
Broadway Video is probably best known as the company behind NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” and Above Average has made frequent use of its current and former cast members in such shows as “Sound Advice,” hosted by Vanessa Bayer, and “7 Minutes in Heaven,” hosted by Mike O’Brien. It also produced “Hudson Valley Ballers,” created by and starring former “SNL” writers Paula Pell and James Anderson.
Above Average other credits include “Alec Baldwin’s Love Ride,” which originally aired on Vessel, Seeso’s “ThingStarter,” Comedy Central’s “Storytime, and the new six-episode series “Algorhythm” (pictured), written by and starring YouTuber Craig Benzine (a.k.a. WheezyWaiter) and co-produced by New Form Digital, which premieres today on Verizon’s mobile-first platform Go90.
It’s also done Facebook Live streams as part of its partnership with Mashable, including interviews broadcast from SXSW in March.
Less visible is Above Average’s work in branded content — including “Camp Halftime” for Pepsi and “It Pays To Book Direct” campaign for Marriott — which Danielson said accounts for about 50% of its business.
“What’s growing in the brand space is the idea that you’re working with brands to provide content that entertains while still highlighting the messaging that they want to convey,” said Danielson. “We have had offers for some of our series from brands for their platforms, and that shows a very different landscape than what we were looking at a few years ago. Even Go90, Verizon — it’s a platform, but it’s a brand. That merger between traditional TV and brand platforms is getting closer and closer. Brands are looking more and more for creator-first executions, and that’s exciting for a company like ours.”