In a nod to the increasing professionalization of the online video space pioneering comedy MCN My Damn Channel is undergoing a rebrand. The company will shed its cheeky moniker in favor of the more corporate friendly, Omnivision Entertainment. The change coincides with a shift in the company’s core mission. Founded as a boutique online video studio specializing in comedy, My Damn Channel announced in the same press release that they would expand their mission to include the discovery, development, and management of talent across genres.
The rebrand comes at the end of a frenetic year for My Damn Channel. In addition to expanding the roster of performers and services the network also recently inked a deal to develop programming for CNN’s Headline News network. The show, tentatively titled Videocracy, would “count down the most talked about entertainment ripped from social media” in an attempt to bring the world of online entertainment to the mainstream. Similar efforts by MTV and Comedy Central have met with mixed results, but the desire to lure millennials, the lucrative demographic that consumes most online media, back to television remains strong.
With high profile television collaborations with CNN on the horizon and a newly expanded roster of talent that covers more than just web comedy the time of the rebrand makes considerable sense. One expects that the irreverence that helped define My Damn Channel’s comedic brand in early days is less to the legacy media and other corporate partners the network now hopes to court. The company will continue to produce comedy programming under the My Damn Channel imprint but all of its new ventures will be housed under Omnivision. Though explicitly tied to the diversification of the company the rebrand will also serve to mitigate some of the negative attention My Damn Channel has received over the last twelve months from the online video media and the creator community.
The My Damn Channel brand took a significant blow last year when the network split with several long time creators, most notably Grace Helbig. The split turned acrimonious when it was revealed that due to the conditions of their original contracts My Damn Channel would retain ownership of their former creators trademarks and all intellectual property associated with their shows. Helbig, whose popular web show Daily Grace was developed in partnership with My Damn Channel was forced to rebuild her online career from scratch. MDC’s refusal to relinquish these rights drew significant negative attention from fans and other prominent creators who felt that the contract unfairly punished Helbig for choosing not to renew her contract with the network.
The dust-up between a popular creator and her network shines a spotlight on a looming problem in the online video industry. Many creators signed exclusive content ownership contract with networks when the online video industry was still in its infancy. These immature deals couldn’t have anticipated the rapid growth taking place in the online video space. As a result many more creators will soon be confronted with the possibility of being separated from a body of work that is far more valuable today than it was when they signed it away.