Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Millionaires here.
Break Media is best known for Break.com, which was one of the first online video portals when it was founded in 1998. Recently, the company has also built up a sizable YouTube channel, and it now has more than one million subscribers. We talked to Michael Chiang, VP and Head of Platform at Break Media, about the YouTube channel’s success and where Break hopes to take it in the future.
Tubefilter: Describe the feeling of crossing one million YouTube subs. What do you have to say to Break’s fans?
Michael Chiang: We’re overwhelmed by the support that our loyal Break.com fans have shown us over the years! The channel is so much fun and we’re glad our community is along for the ride!
TF: What do you think Break’s success says about the appeal of UGC on YouTube?
MC: We knew there was a demand for this type of “original reality television” because our Break.com community was submitting it. The tremendous growth of fails and pranks channels is a testament to the power of the YouTube platform for viral distribution, which goes beyond anything we’ve seen on the web before.
TF: How many videos did you have to sort through in order to compile the celebratory compilation video?
MC: All of them…seriously. I think we have about 2,000 clips on the channel and we made our editor watch all of them. If you think that’s bad, I think that was a better assignment than the time we made our Screen Junkies editor watch all the Twilight movies to compile all 24 minutes and 37 seconds of longing stares into one video. We do it all for the fans!
TF: You guys have benefited from the increasing popularity of prank channels on YouTube. Why do you think prank channels are becoming more popular?
MC: A good prank is universally entertaining and evokes that fun feeling of messing with friends in a (mostly) lighthearted way. They allow us to see how people react to crazy situations and think, “oh boy…would I react that way too!?”
I also think the rise of prank channels is a response to more pranksters doing better and better pranks, and the ease in which they can be shared. Viewers start to recognize some of these guys which in turns helps build a following. Our show OutPrank celebrates classic pranks and pranksters and also shows the interaction between this tight-knit community who just love to prank the public and delight their fans.
TF: Does Break’s YouTube strategy differ in any way from the strategy of the main Break site?
MC: On the YouTube channel, we tend to focus more on pranks and fails versus Break.com, where we take a ‘best of the web’ approach and curate a wider range of topics. I think YouTube tends to be a place users go when they know what they’re looking for or have channels they visit regularly. Break.com is more of a destination to explore and then dig in deep when they discover something awesome. So we tend to be able to use a wider range of programming content on Break.com.
TF: Break Media has launched other YouTube channels like Screen Junkies and AWEme. Are those channels modeled after the main Break channel in any way, and if so, how?
MC: Absolutely. The principles we used to build the Break YouTube channel transcend into our other channels. You have to understand who your audience is, how to serve them what they want, and how to make content as shareable as possible in order to be successful. With our AWEme channel, we’ve been able to harness incredible fan interest with shows like Man At Arms and 3D Chalk Art to build a subscriber base of almost 300k in 10 weeks. We just released our 25th Honest Trailer each of which has exceeded a million views, with many surpassing 5M.
TF: Any upcoming series on the Break channel you’d like to tease?
MC: We’re going to be doing a LOT more Prank stuff a la our Spring Break efforts so keep an eye out and make sure to subscribe!
TF: Hypothetical situation: The Internet is being forced to give up either cats or fails. Which do you choose to leave behind?
MC: Easy answer. Cats. I hate cats. Now cat fails…those can be good…