A Year Later… How The Pet Collective Has Blown Up With Jukin’s Help

As part of YouTube’s channel initiative, which gave upfront funding to various companies for the development and production of premium video programming, well-known international production company Fremantle built “The Pet Collective.” As part of their ethos, cats, dogs, well, animals in general, are huge on the Internet, so why not build a verticalized brand around pet-related content. As part of the original rollout, The Pet Collective licensed and debuted clips and compilations around animals, as well as programming such as “Growing Up Wild” — a series about the life of Bindi and Robert Irwin, children to the late wild-life anthropologist Steve Irwin. But in 2015, with a few hundred thousand subscribers and meager video views, The Pet Collective brand seemed to be treading water, and producing too high quality of programming to sustain the mission to scale around “cat virality”.

And so a partnership was formed in July 2105, with clip-based business Jukin Media, which had made a killing around its own various clip-based verticals like FailArmy.

It’s a model that has been proven over the years. Vin Di Bona’s Fishbowl Entertainment, for instance, has built a business that has stood that test of time on the back of a library of clip material submitted for “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” So, in theory, the idea for The Pet Collective was sound, but in output, it was underperforming, that is, until Jukin Media took over the brand.

“We looked at all the different formats and the analytics behind them,” said Josh Kreitzman VP of Programming & Publishing, at Jukin Media, pointing out that they first looked at the strengths that Jukin Media had to offer and “how they could be taken advantage of with this property that Fremantle did such a good job of building a fanbase around.”

But as Jukin embarked on relaunching the brand and scaling its reach, the company had to take a deep look at what wasn’t working and how to reimagine the approach to a category that was ripe with potential. So in addition to taking the volume of production up by almost four times what it had been, Jukin also re-evaluated the formats being produced.

“On the content side it was about building a program slate that was sustainable with our resources and assets that we have,” Kreitzman told VideoInk. “A lot of the stuff that was being produced previously was more production intensive and relied a lot more on live production which wasn’t something that made sense for us from the economic perspective, to continue.”

Curation has been a trending theme on how to build successful media properties, and Jukin Media is proving that to be the case. With a thoughtful blend of curated and licensed clips met with the high programming that is characteristic of Fremantle, the brand has now found success one year post-joint-venture. Fans have increased three-fold. Views across the platforms are up over 10 times from 20M monthly last July to 200M monthly now, just one month shy of the official handover. According to Jukin, that growth is attributed to organic expansion and strategic cross promotion across the other Jukin Media brands like FailArmy and JukinVideo.

“Some of the success we’ve seen with our other brands, FailArmy, People are Awesome and JukinVideo,” said Kreitzman, “allowed us to learn how to best package user generated content into formats that work. So things like countdowns, best of the week, themed compilations, have worked for us across all of our brands and it was a natural place for us to go with that [The Pet Collective].” Kreitzman cites an upcoming collaboration between People Are Awesome (PAA) and The Pet Collective for which a special “Pets are Awesome” will air on PAA, as one example of how the brands can overlap.

For distribution, The Pet Collective already had a strong spread across the obvious social media platforms and was active on its own O&O, Facebook and Dailymotion. But Jukin saw it was crucial to double down on Facebook, and, as many other brands have seen, the move has proven well-played. 2.3 million fans to date follow the brand on Facebook. At glance, video views trump YouTube by nearly double, on average. The brand on YouTube remains, approaching nearly a million subscribers.

When talking to Kreitzman, it became clear, you can’t capture lightning in a bottle every time. Success comes as a factor of close observation, testing and detachment from a “perfect strategy.” So, for those looking to try to glean a little of Jukin’s JuJu for making online video, clip-driven businesses pop, here are a few lessons to be learned:

  1. Constant iteration is Key! — “[Iteration] is something that we do every day. We went out with what we thought would be the best foot forward for the new updated version of the brand in early winter, and instantly got feedback through fan engagement and viewership analytics that told us which things were working and which things weren’t coupled with the various things we were learning about the platform from our other brands. It’s a constant evolution, it’s part of how we do things here. Nothing is ever set in stone, we’re always looking, tweeking it, updating it, to maximize performance.”
  2. Until Facebook changes there algorithm, double down on video there: “The biggest growth so far has been on that platform, we spent more time on Facebook for The Pet Collective than we initially thought we would, but it’s proven to make a lot more sense now, given how much that platform has changed.”
  3. Even if the topic is light, establish a strong voice and perspective: “One thing that we helped establish was a strong voice and perspective that could be something we currently use to engage our fans with. From the branding side I think it was about finding a voice for [the brand] that would resonate with the fanbase we wanted to attract.”

The world is ripe for content businesses that license, aggregate, and smartly curate video content while folding more traditional formats into the programming strategy. Jukin has proven it with FailArmy, and now The Pet Collective has become the most recent testimonial of a verticalized business approach that’s working.