Lloyd Braun takes Kim Kardashian, Howard Stern & Tyler the Creator ‘Over-The-Top’
A Hollywood veteran’s new adventure
If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you’ll fondly recall George Costanza’s struggles to compete with Lloyd Braun. “That’s all I ever heard growing up,” says George in the show’s Serenity Now episode. “Why can’t you be more like Lloyd Braun.”
The Lloyd Braun character is named after Seinfeld Co-Creator Larry David’s longtime friend, who currently runs the Santa Monica-based digital media company Whalerock Industries.
The real Braun has made some big bets over the years, but none perhaps as big as his latest. Whalerock is launching several Over-The-Top (OTT) subscription channels, on behalf of some big name talent: the Kardashian sisters, Howard Stern (who has known Braun for years) and Tyler, the Creator. With uncertainty surrounding the future of the cable bundle, celebrities are seeing greater opportunities to take their talents directly to the consumer.
Whalerock is not the first company to back a stable of personality-driven subscription channels (media industry veterans Jeff Gaspin and Jon Klein run TAPP, which is home to the Sarah Palin Channel, among others), but its strategy will be closely watched. Whalerock is describing each partnership as a “direct-to-consumer media hub,” with the first hub being launched by Tyler, The Creator in the first half of this year. “The app will include original and curated content and allow Tyler to interact directly with his most passionate fans,” according to a press release.
As an entertainment lawyer, Braun helped clients like Larry David and David Chase (The Sopranos) pursue their creative dreams. Braun’s own creative drive led him to ABC, where he championed shows like Lost, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy. But it was his time as head of Yahoo’s media group (2004–2006) where he got a crash course in building online properties.
“When I went to Yahoo, I didn’t know the first thing about digital,” Braun once told me. A quick study, the skills he picked up at Yahoo headquarters in Sunnyvale led to the creation of BermanBraun (now Whalerock), where the focus from the start was as much about digital content as it was about TV shows and movies. Braun and former partner Gail Berman would give tours at their offices and their Hollywood friends often told them they didn’t understand Braun and Berman’s business.
Now, everyone gets it.
Subscription channels bring all the obvious questions…do people really want to pay monthly for personality-driven channels? Meanwhile, Pay-TV players are exploring workarounds. DISH Network, for example, recently unveiled its Sling TV Internet Service. It’s targeting millennial audiences with a $20 per month package of well-known cable channels.
That likely doesn’t worry the team at Whalerock. And don’t be surprised if more folks in Hollywood ask their colleagues “to be more like Lloyd Braun.”