mercredi 11 avril 2012

10 minutes with Tom Bannister, CEO of SXM Media

photo de Tom Bannister, CEO of SXM Media
TOM Bannister, CEO of SXM Media
 How did your cooperation with Samsung start?

In 2006 Samsung created a short film website called and I saw it. At that time, my company was a short-film sales agency. We tried to sell them some of our short films, but instead they proposed us to produce short-films for them. So we developed some short films for Samsung. And from that we did some viral campaigns, one called Europe United. I developed a relationship with Samsung slowly from 2005 till 2009. In 2009, we pitched them for Fact Checkers Unit, season one. They came to America, we talked more about series, they liked it and we brought NBC as a partner. That was a beginning.

How do you adapt the content to different platforms: web, mobile? Do you use a different format?

It's the same format. Each episode lasts about 5 to 7 minutes, but each one is broadcast on tv as well. However, they are mainly created for the web and for mobiles. [...] The storytelling is perfect for a short format because each episode is an enclosed story. So you don't have to watch episode 1 in order to understand episode 10. That was one of appealing things for Samsung, that each episode was a separate film.
Each episode begins with a given fact that FCU has to check.
[...] Few people know that a magazine fact checker is a person that checks the articles. I think there are two things about this production. One is about a friendship, and the other is about two guys that have a boring job, but they make it interesting. I think a lot of people in real life know this situation: a job that might not be exiting. But FCU is about taking that job and making it exciting. So fact checkers go into the field and act like secret agents. It's all very silly, but they make life interesting and that's why people like this series. That's probably what the phones are all about: listening to music, watching videos, going on Facebook - all these things on your phone make life more interesting, your phone becomes entertaining.

Can we find additional content on social media?

FCU has a HULU page, YouTube page, Facebook and Twitter page. On each of those pages you will find the main content as well as additional materials: shots from the field, interviews with the actors. When we worked with NBC, there was a page on, with MTV - a page on We are currently creating a FCU web TV, that will be ready next month.

What is the 3rd season of FCU about? Have you got a media partner?

The third season will be more about new media, social networks as Facebook and Twitter. No media partner this time.
[...] We try to do third season based on supernatural facts, like X File, but this idea has not yet been agreed on.

What is the audience of FCU?

The audience was initially technology geeks, between 18 and 30, slightly more men. We are looking to appeal to people who write about technology, technology bloggers.

The Galaxy Note is a creative device that has many drawing functions. Thus season 2 was dedicated to creative professions.
Season 1, with Galaxy Note was a little more mainstream audience.

Moreover, we have a global audience: in Asia, in the UK (big followers), in the US, Australia. It's a little more popular in English speaking countries because this comedy translates better if you are an English speaker, even if there are subtitles on them. However, it's a concept that people understand in any languages.

What is your business model?

Samsung underwrites the costs. That's why the product is integrated in it.

What are the statistics about this show ?

There are 9 million views: 4,5 million on You Tube and 4,5 million on MTV and it was just for season 2.
The average time people watch every episode is about 4,1 minute (comparing to 11 seconds that on average people watch You Tube video).

What is a next challenge for you?

The music web series with Viva. There is a web network live on You Tube that does music videos, so we are doing a pilot for them next month.

Moreover, I constantly develop series, like a series call "CTRL", with Tony Hale, who plays Buster Blue. It is a scripted comedy about magical computer and we produced season one with Coca Cola and NBC. But then Coca Cola has decided not to do season 2, so I've been trying to find a computer brand or a technology brand to sponsor the "CTRL" because all the series are about a magical computer. It's hard to get brands to sponsor these kinds of things and I think that it might be partly due to the economy, and it's still a new format of marketing.

My company does a lot of different productions: from entertainment to advertising. FCU is somewhere between. But for example Matumbo Goldberg with Comedy Central is an entertainment production. There is no sponsorship. It's very risqué and a little bit controversial.

I'm really interested in the healthcare industry too. I think a healthcare industry is perfect for online videos because the first thing that somebody does when diagnosed with something is to go online, searching on Google. I'd love to produce programming for that audience. We did series with Disney called "Diagnosis stories" about diabetes which is all about families discovering that their kids has diabetes. It's a documentary series about real families and real solutions to real problems.

What I can wish you?

My perspective on work is more about doing something that you could be proud of, that you enjoy doing it, than about making money or trying to be successful. I'm more interesting in unique experiences.