WatchMojo.com is a video content producer, publisher and syndicator based in Montreal, Canada. It was founded in 2005 by media executive and entrepreneur Ashkan Karbasfrooshan, Raphael Daigneault and Christine Voulieris. The WatchMojo.com website launched on January 23, 2006. Today it ranks as one of the top 10 YouTube partner channels in the world.
Ashkan Karbasfrooshan, Raphael Daigneault and Christine Voulieris co-founded WatchMojo in 2005 after the previous site that Karbasfrooshan was an executive of, AskMen.com, was acquired by IGN Entertainment. While at AskMen, Karbasfrooshan ran ad sales while writing on business, pop culture and lifestyle topics. He launched and wrote AskMen.com's Top 10 lists under various pen names and also served as the resident interviewer, interviewing celebrities and newsmakers like Hugh Hefner and Joe Montana.
In March 2006, News Corp., IGN and AskMen filed a lawsuit alleging that Karbasfrooshan had violated his non-competition agreement, seeking an injunction and requiring Karbasfrooshan to shut down WatchMojo. Maintaining that the lawsuit was frivolous and without merit, Karbasfrooshan represented himself and defended WatchMojo, prevailing in the trial. Karbasfrooshan had no legal training or background, but nonetheless managed to defeat News Corp.'s trial lawyers from Fasken Martineau, one of Canada's leading law firms. The case ended with WatchMojo continuing to operate; subsequently various units of News Corp., including MySpace, Hulu and IGN, began to license WatchMojo's content.
While many media companies work with WatchMojo to promote their releases and in turn license WatchMojo's videos on their own media properties, Karbasfrooshan has developed into a leading authority on copyright law and Fair Use, writing multiple articles on the topic in his regular MediaPost column. In addition, Karbasfrooshan has been published in other industry publications such as TechCrunch, PaidContent, GigaOm and Tubefilter; and spoken, moderated or served as a panelist at industry conferences like Streaming Media, OMMA, and others. He is also the author of two books: The Confessions of Alexander the Great, and Course To Success: Everything You Need To Succeed Beyond School.
The company employs over ten full-time employees according to its Linkedin profile, though it has added multiple freelancers as of 2013.
WatchMojo.com owns a catalog of 8,000 reference and infotainment videos, producing 60 to 100 new videos and over 750 minutes of content each month. The majority of the videos are in English, but WatchMojo also has hundreds of French and Spanish videos.
The company's mission is to "inform and entertain," and its current editorial covers the "people, places and things that have shaped pop culture" through the production of short (5 to 10-minute clips) biographies, profiles and Top 10 lists. WatchMojo is one of the few YouTube channels that updates every day, even on weekends. WatchMojo also frequently engages with viewers on the comments section of its YouTube channel. Karbasfrooshan has credited the company's emphasis on "viewer service" to his background in customer service and other entrepreneurs like Craig Newmark who remained actively involved in customer support.
Its library covers a wide range of topics and its programming focus has evolved over the years:
- Categories (2006-09 focus) such as Auto, Business & Technology, Comedy, Education, Fashion, Film, Health & Fitness, History, Lifestyle, Music, Science & Space, Sports, Travel, and Videogames.
- Themes (2009-11 focus) that cut across Categories and include Biographies, Top 10s, Profiles, How To's, Versus, Interviews. WatchMojo has interviewed prominent authors, musicians, actors, directors and newsmakers; including Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Anthony Bourdain, LMFAO and many others.
- This Day in Video (2011-12 focus), which covers noteworthy Births, Deaths, Anniversaries and Releases on the date of their anniversary.
- Viewer Suggestions (2013–present), which are then voted on by other viewers and selected by the WatchMojo team and then converted into videos.
Each one of these focus elements represents a layer in WatchMojo's library, which spans 8,000 videos.
WatchMojo.com does not feature user-generated content nor does it allow a mechanism for users to upload videos onto its site. It does, however, offer viewers the ability to suggest ideas and vote on entries on its top 10 lists. The company also licenses videos from Hulu and offers over 300,000 clips from Hulu's content partners on the WatchMojo.com website, though it does not redistribute these.
While the company's content suits both men and women, nearly 85% of the company's YouTube audience is male and over 90% of its YouTube subscribers are men, with 78% of those being 18-34.
WatchMojo employs a multi-platform distribution model consisting of syndication on:
- Internet: The company's content can be accessed on the big three portals AOL, Yahoo, and MSN. It also syndicates its videos to Time Warner, Hulu and other traditional media outlets. It launched its YouTube channel on January 25, 2007. After reaching 100,000 subscribers in January 2013, WatchMojo crossed 1,000,000 YouTube subscribers on October 30, 2013 and 2,000,000 by February 1 2014. In January, 2014, WatchMojo's YouTube audience watched over 625 million minutes of content and over 122 million video views. All-time, across all websites, it crossed 1 billion cumulative views in the summer of 2012 and 2 billion views as of December 2013. The leading geographic markets are the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
- Out-of-home: WatchMojo's videos reach nearly 50 million consumers per month according to Nielsen in practically every DMA. The videos can be seen in taxi cabs, buses, cruise ships, malls, gyms, airports, gas stations and many other retail outlets.
- Over-the-top connected devices through partnerships like Xbox, as well as the company's own apps.
- Mobile: the company generates over 30 million mobile views each month.
The company's multi-platform, aggregate reach is over 75 million consumers per month.
Due to the 2008-09 recession, by 2009 WatchMojo.com had de-emphasized an ad-supported model in favor of licensing fees paid by other media companies to access and use their media. Later that year Beet.tv featured WatchMojo.com alongside Magnify.net as examples of companies which successfully switched from ad-based revenue models to licensing fee based revenue models.
In addition, WatchMojo supplies video content to various academic and educational publishers, including Pearson, Cengage, Express Publishing, Nelson and many more.
It is unclear what portion of the company's videos are sponsored by advertisers, though the company has always deficit-financed videos, describing itself as "Wikipedia of video," albeit with professionally produced content, and striving to have a video on every topic imaginable. The company is privately held and broke-even in November 2010 according to management. However, like most video producers, it has struggled to scale revenues due to a lack of in-house sales team, low CPM rates on YouTube and an overall over-abundance of ad inventory as a result of the proliferation of content from both professional producers and consumers alike.
Games and Interactive Tools
In April 2013, WatchMojo provided its viewers with the ability to suggest video ideas and to vote on other viewers' suggestions. The WatchMojo Video Suggestion tool launched to the public on April 26, 2013 and formally empowered viewers to become a part of the production process. The company commented on its YouTube channel that due to its growth it was becoming impossible to properly manage and track all of its million subscribers' suggestions in the video comments area on YouTube, so it created the Suggestion Tool to streamline the process. By February 2014, 30,000 users had submitted 60,000 approved suggestions and voted 1,000,000 times on the 265,000 top 10 list entries.
In May 2013, the company launched WatchMojo Trivia, which leverages the company's catalog of videos to display multiple choice and true/false questions to users, keeping track of their scores.
Awards and Recognition
The next year, Karbasfrooshan was nominated for Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year in the Media category. Despite being founded in Canada, the company's main market is the United States with a majority of its clients, viewers and revenues.
In September 2012, FlipBoard selected WatchMojo in its "Three Things We Love" feature, stating: "Few YouTube channels are as prolific as WatchMojo, which uploads as many as 10 videos per week about 'the people, places and trends viewers are passionate about.' Turns out that’s a pretty eclectic mix—it’s not unusual to flip from a biography of pop star Pink to a history of the CERN Large Hadron Collider.”
During the summer of 2012, Ted Prince, the former President of National Geographic Ventures joined the company as an advisor.
WatchMojo cracked Tubefilter's list of the 100 most viewed YouTube channels in July 2013, entering the chart at number 99 with over 32 million views. In February 2014, WatchMojo's YouTube channel generated over 122 million views, breaking into the top 10 rank globally according to Tubefilter's weekly charts. Throughout 2013, WatchMojo added over 1,500,000 subscribers. As of March 2014 it had over 3,000,000 subscribers.
WatchMojo's YouTube channel generates more views than the channels of media organizations WWE, CollegeHumor, BBC, TMZ, Buzzfeed, Britain's Got Talent, Howcast, Vice Media, Machinima; musical artists Beyonce, Avril Lavigne, Skrillex, Demi Lovato, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Will.i.am, Shakira, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj and Maroon 5; as well as that of popular YouTube celebrity channels such as EpicMealTime, Nigahiga and several others.
- Alicia Androich; Eve Lazarus, Norma Ramage (9 September 2011). "Canada’s Digital Media Companies to Watch". Marketing. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
- Whitney, Daisy (22 September 2009). "The Shift from Ad Models to License Fees". Beet.tv. Retrieved 5 February 2012.