When Kevin Hart teamed up with Lionsgate to launch the Laos Out Loud network in the summer of 2013, the idea was to create a proprietary and managed streaming home for comedy content, a big part of the revenue pie, including subscriptions.
As it turned out, NBCU Universal Sisor pulled the plug just in time for its comedy roll-up SVOD play.
The subscription aspect of LOL did not last long, as niche streaming services fought and major players like HBO Max and Disney Plus came out on top to fight consumer entertainment spending. Hart’s company is moving from the original plan to become a comedy content distributor, a versatile producer – a change of strategy, Hart said. Diversity, It has allowed LOL to expand beyond its core objectives in reaching the audience.
“We made some changes that were for improvement, that put us in a position to grow,” Hart said. “Now it’s much bigger than we thought.”
In early 2019, Hart bought most of Lonsgate out loud to jump out to become the owner. Then earlier this year he struck a deal with NBCU, under which minority equity stakeholders in media company LL. The deal makes Hart’s company a big partner with a series for the Peacock and a compilation of short-form roots with the title starting in 2020 after the abbreviated free / paid streamer. Peacock will also distribute LLL’s catalog.
“Let me build the organization I trust,” Hart said of his interest in controlling at LL.
Hart says the company’s creative mission hasn’t changed. “Three years ago it started as a vision to give people gifts, today’s comedy talent, men and women, an opportunity to pop – and it turns out … we’ve slowly spread our asses, and worked hard to get closer to the goal. We have made some words and we are consistent. ”
LL’s content comes from the talent lineup of about 300 comedians from more than 30 countries. Hart said the biggest opportunity remains “to be able to give people a special identity on our platform, especially people of color. It’s from colorful comedy, people of color. It’s a place that has historically been underworlded,” and we try our best to fill it. Doing, ”he said.
While his team at LOL and led by EVP and GM Thai Randolph and President Jeff Clanagan were trying to build a digital comedy empire, Hart had to embrace his time by jumping out loud with his acting work, which he continued to “Jumanji: The Next Level.” And there was also a PR blowup in 2018 with the introduction of recent movies, including “Pet’s Secret Life 2”, when his past gay tweets resurfaced and he resigned as Oscar host; Hart and his production company turned the experience into a Netflix documentary, “Kevin Hart: Don F ** k Is Up.”
Did Hart ever think of throwing a towel at LL? “No, not at all,” he said. “It was about me,‘ How do I move forward to the challenge? My challenge now is to create this thing as a potential hero from scratch on the field – one of the things that has made it. That’s the decent thing to do, and it should end there. “
Today, the jump-out loud is a multi-platform network with multiple business lines. The company says it has reached more than 100 million video viewers through distribution on streaming platforms including Roku Channel, ViacomCBS’s Plutovi, Snapchat, YouTube, Tiktok, Facebook and Instagram – and will soon be NBCU’s Peacock Parchment.
“The landscape has really evolved over the last three years,” said GM Randolph of the Laugh Out Loud Network. “We have expanded it in terms of availability and distribution, but also in terms of ambition about what the company is and what it could be. Our focus – our munshot – is to develop the most relevant comedy brand in the world. “
On the occasion of its third anniversary, LOL Network wanted to create a new destination through the redesign of the .com site to better present its content across all platforms and formats, as well as its genius across comic talents (website laughter). Demonstrating multiple divisions developing, distribution touchpoints and top-level talent partnerships, ”Randolph said.
The company also operates LOL Studios, a full-service production company with 40,000 square feet of studio space in Canoga Park, California. The arm of the company produced the original “Die Heart” co-starring Whit and John Travolta. Also, in the LOL audio section, SiriusXM has a radio channel featuring a show hosted by Hart and the No. 1 podcast on Pandora, “Live with Heart with Kevin Hart.”
It also launched LOL X !, a live-events and experimental division, and partnered with ViacomCBS earlier this year to conduct marketing for Nick Cannon’s Wild N Out tour, although additional projects are stuck in the COVID-19 epidemic. And LL Canada continues to expand globally through a distribution agreement with Bell Media and Tencent’s Eflix streaming service in Southeast Asia.
Randolph noted that the LLA always has an ad-supported element to the business model, targeting multicultural audiences and doubling an African-American base of comedy fans. The industry is leaning towards Avoid as demonstrated by Peacock, “validating our assumptions,” he said. At the same time, agency executives wanted to diversify their portfolios so as not to rely too heavily on a single earnings stream, as Randolph put it, “none of this is working.”
Meanwhile, marketers have tapped LL to create fun-branded content through a variety of cultural voices. For example, the company has worked with LAFT on “Kevin Hart: Lift Legend” (in which Hart goes undercover as the driver of the lights so as not to miss any trips to unsuspecting passengers) and under the old patronage of P&G, “as a cold ball,” example Spice, YouTube Ice-bathing sports talk show.
LOL Kevin Hart is built around being a “North Star, Heart and Vision” from a talent standpoint, Randolph said, adding that he is “a supporter” for raising other humorous voices with him. “What Kevin did and his whole MO is sweat equity – there’s a foundation to make sure.”
The company is profitable, Randolph said, scaling up or down the headcount as needed for productions with “the original team being intentionally small and slender,” he said. “We’re focused on the bottom line and the benefits.”
Clanagan, Hart’s longtime business partner, said the company has been able to adapt quickly to industry trends with its slender, partnership-centric structure. He sees a continued global expansion for LL, especially in Africa, Clanagan said, “From what we’ve seen from Kevin, there’s a huge global market for this content.”
Like other networks and studios, LLO has been dropped for a loop due to production shutdowns caused by the epidemic. This has forced the team to be more creative, Hart said.
“You guys really got to get to a point where they said, ‘Even though we’re not physically in a position to make the set, what can we do?'” He said. “We still challenge the team to produce and bring things and this To be aggressive in time. There was never a time to come back and I was in my own misery.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, LL was involved in a number of animated project works. “It wasn’t actually on our roadmap, but we accelerated that development pipeline,” Klanagan said, because it’s more likely to create animated content remotely. A pilot comes out within a few weeks of an event called “Heart to Confessions” with an animated presentation of the story told by the company’s comedians. Hart mentions that the idea sprouted after he posted about 10 minutes long stories on Instagram each week, “comedian storyteller,” Klanagan said, and “they started flying.”
Hart hopes to be able to start production in September with his first real peacock series, “Heart to Heart”, with which he promises to interview various guests with “real, authentic and raw conversation”.
When the productions are back in action, Hart is hopeful that LOL will be able to land more fans. He said the NBCU deal was “huge and special”. “They can act as great partners and put us in a position to do more – and more.”