Quirky News Producer Maps Monetization Path

Steve Bradbury, COO, Zazoom

Steve Bradbury, COO, Zazoom

By Fred Dawson
One example of how the video entertainment supply chain has expanded opportunities for money-making innovation can be found in the output of Zazoom, a creator of journalistically serious but quirky news clips that can be found on various outlets across the Web.

2012 was the first full year of distribution for Zazoom’s Buzz60 brand of news coverage, which generated some 165 million views on AOL, News Distribution Network, YouTube, Daily Motion and elsewhere, according to Zazoom COO Steve Bradbury. At the end of the year the company forged an agreement to produce the same type of news coverage it does through Buzz60 under the Yahoo! brand. “We’re getting into the billions of views,” Bradbury says.

Zazoom was founded by several New York journalists as a way to supplement mainstream news coverage with untold stories in a format especially appealing to millennials. “Between them our founders have 100 years of journalism experience and have won 32 Emmys in prior pursuits,” Bradbury notes.

With a full news studio and staff of journalists, Zazoom has created a fast-paced environment designed to generate ten to 11 short-form videos, typically one to three minutes in length, per day. Original footage taken by staff or from other sources is combined with journalistic reporting to create a piece narrated by an on-screen reporter in the New York studio.

“There’s a real newsroom environment, and they all come up with ideas,” Bradbury explains. “Those that bubble up to the surface, and they come from various sources, are the ones that get produced every day.”

Content is off-beat, sometimes funny, sometimes hard breaking news. “I sit next to the CEO [Tim Minton, a former reporter for local ABC and NBC stations],” Bradbury says. “He’ll say there’s something coming out of the police department that’s going to happen tomorrow. He knows it first, and we can decide whether we want to cover it or not. So we’re producing content that is timely but also can be evergreen.”

Zazoom makes money primarily through ad revenue-share on syndication agreements with its many distribution partners. “Most everything we produce is produce once, distribute many,” he says. “When someone says I want a piece of content at 9 o’clock, 11 o’clock and 3 o’clock every day and I want it to be topical and I want it on this specific area, we produce it.”

But as new syndication partners come on board, including CE manufacturers like Samsung, new modes of making money are taking shape around customized content, he adds. “We’re really starting to build out an interesting animal,” he says. “Brands and agencies are looking for the digital newsroom. They’re struggling to turn around content quickly. So we’re engaged with some very interesting conversations to work with agencies and brands.”

The company is also going global with Spanish-language productions, soon to be followed by French productions and other variations. “We can pretty much do them in any language that we want to,” Bradbury says.