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VARIETY: Kin Community Shifts Focus From Digital Influencers to ‘Mainstream’ TV Personalities

Todd Spangler for Variety,
Are TV stars — or, at any rate, people who have appeared on television — more reliable magnets for digital audiences than internet-native creators?Kin Community was founded in 2011 as a specialized YouTube multichannel network aimed at young female audiences, aggregating content from creators like Rosanna Pansino (of Nerdy Nummies), Hannah Hart (MyHarto), Jenn Im (Clothes Encounters), and Lauren Riihimaki (LaurDIY).

Now the L.A.-based entertainment company is shifting gears: Kin is focused on producing its own programming geared around recognizable “mainstream” talent from TV, de-emphasizing its original mini-MCN approach.

The change in strategy is based on the success Kin has found from Tia Mowry’s “Quick Fix,” which launched last fall as a weekly show offering up tips and life hacks for moms. The show from Mowry, best known for her starring role in ’90s sitcom “Sister, Sister,” built a viewership that has outstripped many cable TV shows — and Kin CEO Michael Wayne is doubling down on the model.

“What we started to realize toward the end of last year was, digital influencers and traditional celebrities are converging — Tia Mowry is as influential as anyone in this space,” Wayne said. “The talent we’re now working with are well known online and they’re engaged online, but they have mainstream appeal. We are creating high-quality content that rivals what you see on TV.”

Kin has several other channels in development with purportedly mainstream talent and plans to roll out as many as 20 over the next 18 months.

Wayne said Kin will continue to work with internet creators but the focus is squarely on the company’s own content productions. “We were never in the same space as [large-scale MCNs like] Maker or Fullscreen,” he said. “We’ve never had more than 100 creators we’ve worked with.” It’s worth noting Hannah Hart recently left the Kin network and is now affiliated with Studio71.

The data Kin saw from Mowry’s “Quick Fix” convinced Wayne to zero in on the approach. For example, during the week of Jan. 8-14, 2018, “Quick Fix” drew 2.1 million total unique viewers among women 18-34, per research that Kin commissioned from Nielsen. That topped unscripted cable shows including E!’s “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” VH1’s “Love and Hip Hop,” Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and Food Network’s “Chopped.”

Building on Mowry’s show, the Kin “Neighborhood” model will be geared around what Wayne described as premium lifestyle channels hosted by mainstream personalities. “We saw the need to build a brand-safe, family-friendly neighborhood on the big digital platforms,” he said, likening YouTube and Facebook to the “mega-cities” of the internet.

“I’m having loads and loads of fun,” she said. “As an actor, you’re putting yourself in someone else’s brand. You are not necessarily being who you are. I am now able to do that with my own content, and feed that to my audience.”

Why does Mowry — who already had millions of social-media followers before launching “Quick Fix” — need to work with a company like Kin, instead of doing it on her own? She praised Kin and Wayne’s expertise in the digital space to grow audience reach. “I’ve been approached by other companies but I like Kin’s holistic approach,” Mowry said. “I feel like Kin Community shares my values.”

Like “Quick Fix,” Kin will distribute its original programming across Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Amazon Prime. The talent-driven channels will have weekly premiere dates set, mimicking TV’s programming blocks.

“All Things Adrienne” debuted last month. On her channel, Houghton shares tips and tricks on all things beauty, fashion, home decor, entertaining, and more. According to Kin, “All Things Adrienne” is on a similar trajectory as “Quick Fix,” attracting more than 400,000 followers in the first four weeks since its launch.

Coming up next: “Life in Motion with Derek Hough,” a new series in which he’ll show viewers “how to infuse energy into every aspect of their lives.” The daytime-TV-style format will include his wellness tips, nutritional insights, fun fitness fads, and family memories with his four sisters.