Mic Unveils Plans for Longform Video Unit (Exclusive)

The Hollywood Reporter

When Mic launched election-focused series Clarify on Spotify earlier this month, the millennial-focused media company didn't plan on it being a one-off project.

The web series, hosted by former Daily Show producer Baratunde Thurston, is meant to be the first of several scripted, documentary-style and news magazine projects that it will develop out of its new longform video unit, Mic Visions. 

Clarify's segments are under 10 minutes each but add up to a 20- to 25-minute episode. And its distribution on Spotify is in line with Mic Visions' plan to focus on over-the-top streaming and linear television distribution for its projects. 

Cory Haik, Mic's chief strategy officer, explains that the projects Visions create won't necessarily be built for social distribution across platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Mic will continue to produce socially distributed videos as well as branded content but views the Visions projects as the next step in its video strategy.

"It really follows the editorial evolution of the platform," she says, referencing original series The Movement, which focuses on stories from marginalized communities. Haik declined to comment on projects currently in development, but said Mic is working on some "interesting" projects and having meetings with everyone from traditional networks to OTT platforms. 

Like many editorially driven digital-media startups, five-year-old Mic made a heavy push into online videos with the 2015 debut of weekly web series Flip the Script, which had more than 33 million views in its first season distributed across Facebook and YouTube. Mic, which reaches a monthly audience of 30 million people, is continuing to follow in the footsteps of BuzzFeed and Vox with the launch of a longform division. Vice launched a cable network earlier this year with a slate of traditional length projects. BuzzFeed, via its Los Angeles-based BuzzFeed Motion Pictures unit, is developing projects for film and television based on its stories and web projects, and Vox last year launched a Los Angeles-based video unit to focus on selling projects to television. 

"Our goal is to create premium programming in Mic's voice that will inform, entertain and drive big millennial audiences," said Mic co-founder and CEO Chris Altchek. 

Mic is currently searching for a senior vp content development and production to oversee Visions who would report to Haik, who says that the division is considered a stand-alone unit within Mic. 

While Haik acknowledges that a push into longform video can be expensive, she says it's about expanding the Mic brand. "There's long-term value from a brand-building perspective for us to jump into video in this form," she adds. "We've seen a lot of success around shortform video, but we have a real desire to do a deeper level of storytelling. From a content perspective and storytelling perspective, moving into this direction will help really build out who Mic is."