For any American under the age of 20, the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, and Jordin Sparks are household names, regularly drawing throngs of teens to their live concert tours, and aggregating, together, over 700 million views on YouTube alone. Imagine, for a moment, what it would look like if you paired these three with countless other stars, like Honor Society, Meaghan Martin, Wonder Girls, KSM, Big Rob, Jordan Pruitt, and Anna Maria. You’d have the foundation to build an online network rivaling the likes of MTV.
Like the boy bands that came before them, the Jonas Brothers have evolved from a band into a brand — landing them at #60 on Forbes Top 100 Celebrity list last year. In February, the trio, which signed to Hollywood Records in 2006, launched the mysterious and eponymous Jonas Group, to be helmed by their father, Kevin Jonas, Sr., in partnership with their longtime manager, Philip McIntyre. The net was abuzz with speculation that the Jonas Brothers were forming their own label — but it turns out they were up to something much more savvy. They had launched an entertainment company.
Word of Cambio first snuck out when the Jonas Brothers, Kevin, Joe, and Nick, published a video about the service on YouTube on April 9, 2010. The video garnered half a million views, but didn’t offer much insight into what Cambio actually was outside of “original videos, concert specials, and live chats.”
This week, on Tuesday June 15th at 4:00pm PT, the site will soft launch, and from what the Times has reported, Cambio has all the ingredients of an MTV killer.
A partnership between the recently independent yet struggling AOL, New York based MGX Lab, which serves as “the agency of record and 360 degree brand strategy team for the Jonas Group,” and the Jonas Group itself which co-manages the Jonas Brothers with Wright Entertainment Group, the site will be part of the AOL Teen Network, and is being billed as “a next-generation video network for the Web, a kind of MTV without the pesky middleman.”
AOL has a lot at stake in this endeavor, as they put their money and resources into premium content, while continuing to emphasize and expand their commitment to a Demand Media style UGC empire built around their Seed platform. Senior execs at AOL are clearly helping guide this strategy, and this deal in particular has David Eun‘s fingerprints all over it. The former Vice President of Content Partnerships at Google (and an AOL-Time Warner alumn before that), Eun jumped ship from the search giant back in February to take over as President of AOL Media and Studios, and serve as the company’s chief content exec. In his four years at Google, Eun was instrumental in building strategic partnerships for YouTube with major media interests like ABC/Disney, the BBC, and Universal Music, with its VEVO platform, helping to net the company hundreds of millions in revenue.
In his four months at AOL, the company seems clearly to be feeling his impact. But, what isn’t clear, is how Cambio fits into Eun’s new ‘Super Net’ strategy which has AOL focusing all of its content production and distribution on 17 sites, rather than across its current network of 80 or so unique URLs.
The monetization model for Cambio is unclear at this time, but brands are already coming on board. Johnson & Johnson and Bayer will each sponsor a month of one of the site’s first web series, Cambio Cares.
Joining the network’s new line up of web series will be the new Nick Jonas’ reality series, Nick in London, Road Dogs, Cambio Connect, Cambio Style, and Cambio Goes Home, after the site’s full official launch on July 27. Live concert specials are also expected to grace the network, whose focus on non-scripted reality based programming should keep costs down, while driving interest up. The site also has rolled out a mobile version of its content offerings.
This combination, along with the built-in audiences of the network’s stars, will make it a serious competitor to MTV online and may also prove to give YouTube a run for its money in some content verticals.
It is unclear who is developing the network’s original content, or pitching it to brands, but CAA, the Jonas Brother’s tenpercentery, and its CAA Marketing division, may be playing a role. The Cambio site is operated by AJM Productions, LLC, presumably a subsidiary of AOL.
We reached out to AOL and the Jonas Group, but as of press time, they have yet to respond.