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Miroma invests in YouTube youth channel

Miroma invests in YouTube youth channel
News
Pippa Considine
22 October 2013

UK online youth broadcaster, SB.TV, estimated to be worth £8m, has received significant investment from Miroma Ventures.

With today's news from Nielsen showing continued growth in internet display advertising - growing by 26.6 per cent in the first half of this year over the comparable period in 2012  - the YouTube evolution looks as if it will keep moving steadily forwards.

SB.TV was founded in 2006 around urban music by Jamal Edwards, from West London, SB.TV describes itself as a "global youth lifestyle broadcaster",  run by a team of six and with more than 150 million views on YouTube.

The business is built on three core services: broadcasting, production and editorial services. The investment and the expertise that will come from Miroma Ventures will enable SB.TV to add ecommerce capabilities across digital broadcasting, mobile applications, merchandise and live events.

Miroma is a London-based investor specialising in fast growth media and technology businesses.
Miroma’s Marc Boyan will join as a board director, allowing Edwards to focus on creating content.

“SB.TV has changed youth broadcasting, empowering young, hungry UK artists on their own terms. Now it’s about going to that next level and you need outside expertise to achieve that.” says Jamal Edwards. “We are teaming up with Miroma Ventures to use their knowledge of how to grow and diversify a successful business.” Edwards wants to launch channels in fashion, comedy, sport, business, games and gadgets.

“SB.TV and Jamal Edwards are no doubt one of the UK’s biggest success stories and the business has huge potential to further establish itself as an important, relevant youth culture movement,” says Marc Boyan. “When Sir Richard Branson and Chad Hurley are admirers, you certainly sit up and take notice. The Miroma Ventures team are aware of the rapidly changing face of business and we believe digital natives are now the experts in the space."

SB.TV has worked with UK talent Jessie J, Rita Ora, Emeli Sande, Ed Sheeran, Tinie Tempah and international stars such as Spike Lee, Drake, Will Smith, P Diddy and Katy Perry. It has also worked with businesses, brands and charities like Channel 4 Education, Virgin Media Pioneers, Beats By Dre, Adidas Originals, Puma, NSPCC, Livity and most recently The Prince’s Trust working, with the Prince of Wales.

With ad revenue not yet making a significant difference to the fortunes of YouTube channels, operators need to think laterally, dealing in tie-ins, sponsorships, e-commerce and any opportunity on offer.

YouTube channels are still in something of an experimental stage. After launching a slew of channels in the States, around 50 were launched in Europe this time last year, with seed funding from YouTube coffers. The Google-owned video website has linked up with media companies including Hat Trick, All3Media and ITN for the UK channels, which include the Jamie Oliver Food Tube Channel, BBC Worldwide's On Earth and Mixmag TV.

The channels have had varying degrees of success. At a recent YouTube event, Google's European head Matt Brittin said that the total duration of content viewed on YouTube in the UK had doubled in the past two years, but it's not competing head on with broadcast channels, not yet. “We complement what people are watching on TV because YouTube’s different,” he said. “We indulge passions because you’re able to find content about just about anything.”

Jamie Oliver's Food Tube channel has more than 420,000 subscribers and Oliver is a fan. “I can present a TV show and get 1.8 million viewers, which is great, but I know nothing about them,” he said at the same YouTube event. “YouTube gives me proper analytics, which allow me to change what I’m filming tomorrow based on feedback from today….A big part of the future is about being agile and quick.”

Meanwhile, less established brands than Jamie Oliver have found an audience. The Harries twins' YouTube channel Jackgap has almost three million subscribers, watching the twins broadcast quirky, humorous vlogs from their bedroom. The pair get some money from their Google AdSense account, but have also had offers to front TV series and radio shows.

SB.TV isn't the first YouTube business to attract venture capital. In the summer, Base79, the UK-based digital company that operates a swathe of YouTube channels, received a cash injection of several million dollars from Evolution Media Capital, a boutique investment bank part-owned by the Creative Artists Agency.

Base79 works with rights owners to create and monetise ad-supported YouTube and OTT channels. Its partners include BBC Worldwide, Tiger Aspect, IMG and Guinness World Records.

It may be a while yet before anything other than short form grips the YouTube audience in sufficient numbers and there will undoubtedly be casualties, but the YouTube channel world is slowly gathering momentum.

YouTube's Richard Lewis will be speaking at the Televisual Factual Festival on 6th November at BAFTA about what YouTube means for producers. To find out more and to book to hear him speak, go to the Festival website.





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