Thoughts On Brat Network
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Fast Company about Brat, a teenage focused media network on YouTube.
Brat creates original scripted programming catering to teenage girls. The company has shown explosive growth – in just over a year they’ve generated over 22 million views and three million subscribers. Brat has grown, at least in part, due to its regularly featuring popular influencers such as Anna Cathcart, Addison Riecke, Francesca Capaldi, and Emily Skinner.
Brat Network: Approach
What I find really interesting about Brat is their approach to working with influencers – they incorporate influencers to build audiences, but their IP doesn’t live or die based on any individual talent. Instead, Brat has modeled itself after the Marvel Cinematic Universe where all characters and shows exist in a single universe of the same (fictional) county.
Brat gets to capitalize on influencer audiences – essentially building a market into the content/product itself. Most influencer content is lo-fi (when compared to traditional TV and films), as a result Brat is able to create more ‘native’ looking/lower cost content, which costs less. Rob Fishman, co-founder of Brat, said that they’re keeping costs very low/that they’re “spending in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for every season.” This budget conscious production is necessary given the YouTube environment where CPM’s are low (and at times disappear entirely).
In looking at Brat I see a lot of parallels to AwesomenessTV – they both cater to a younger, female demo, and produce content featuring influencers. Where they seem to differ is Brat is operating more lean and mean, and has a more straightforward path to becoming a profitable business.
In Digiday, Brat Co-Founder, Fishman stated that “If you’re spending any meaningful amount of money on production, there’s not yet a business model that’s totally supported by the platforms,” I agree with that. Ad revenue on YouTube isn’t as reliable as it used to be and even with ad integrations and sponsorships the ad model is very difficult.
That said, Brat is building massive audiences with their content, and doesn’t have to wait for advertisers to generate revenue. They’re vertically integrated, and are building up their own brand and selling their own products. If you visit the Brat website you’ll be able to by Brat branded merch, makeup, and jewelry. In looking at their site it looks as though their products must be selling well – several items are sold out.
Brat also seems to be laser focused on developing their own IP – I think that’s going to help them stay focused and not overextend themselves. Furthermore, it will allow them to be less solely reliant upon specific talent. Brat isn’t reliant upon one influencer to make or break their business. Now that they’ve created this brand and this audience they can test different stories and talent without it all hinging upon big influencers to make it a success.
It will be interesting to see how the company evolves and what role advertisers play in their business. At a glance, I certainly see more of an opportunity in selling products, paid subscriptions, and being more reliant upon their own IP vs outside advertisers.