To his competitors and fans alike, Dane Boedigheimer’s passion project has been annoyingly successful.
Boedigheimer’s Annoying Orange online comedy series has spawned a Cartoon Network show and a number of licensed consumer products. Now, the Orange’s signature yellow-toothed smile has been viewed two billion times on YouTube, a feat that holds more significance than ever as multi-channel networks and online TV creations continue to be courted by huge traditional media companies.
The four-year-old series, which is developed by Daneboe and produced by multi-channel network Collective Digital Studios, is comprised of more than 330 videos – a number that Boedigheimer says is actually relatively small when compared to channels that release thousands of videos. He talks to iKids about extracting success from one crazy idea he had five years ago.
What do two billion YouTube views mean for the Annoying Orange brand?
It’s a big deal because not too many people have hit that kind of viewership, and they especially haven’t hit it with the output we’ve had. Gamers and music channels have reached these viewership numbers through thousands of videos, and we have 330 on the channel and have managed to accomplished it. As an animation channel, we’ve been sure to be consistent with our content release.
What does your growing viewership say about kids’ desire for comedy and online content?
YouTube is definitely a place where kids are seeking out content, and parents are equally seeking out material for their kids. It’s so easy for parents to pull up a clip up an iPad that will occupy their kids. The big thing for YouTube – and for us – is finding a place that is safe, isn’t risqué and is free of swearing.
Our main demo is kids ages eight to 13, so we are family friendly with an edge. There’s animated violence akin to the Looney Tunes stuff that I grew up watching. Kids want this edge; they want to watch something that they think is somewhat scandalous. We strive to be family friendly while accomplishing that sense of danger – it’s like controlled danger. At the end of the day, we want to make ourselves laugh, too.
How has digital distribution changed since the series first launched in 2010?
We’ve seen a huge change in what used to be the YouTube model where you uploaded a video once a week. Friday was our day for Orange. But with today’s viewing habits, it’s all about volume. People want lots and lots of content and you get preferred status on YouTube if that’s what you provide.
Being primarily an animation channel, we’ve had to grow with that. We are already trying to do other shows on the channel, such as The Misfortune of Being Ned, which is the first we’ve tried out and we have a few more in the mix debuting this year.
What do you make of Disney’s US$500 million Maker Studios buy?
It blows my mind. That’s one of the biggest changes since when I started Annoying Orange. MCN’s were just starting. We’ve really seen the evolution of these channels grow and be bought by legitimate companies that have been around for decades. It’s increasingly interesting to see what is going to happen over the next year.
I’m with the Collective [Digital Studio], and they feel the same way. Annoying Orange is one of those brands that can be exploited and live in different spaces. So there’s real value. As far as someone coming up and buying the Collective, who knows? That’s for them to decide and for the future to reveal.
Who are your biggest competitors today?
As a YouTuber, we don’t really feel like we’re competing. Especially for Annoying Orange, as we are built on collaboration. It grew because of other brands like iJustine wanting to be on the show and sharing audiences. Therefore, we don’t see others as a competitor but more as potential brand with which to share audiences. That’s the YouTube mentality. It sounds sappy, but it’s true.
What exactly are the origins of the Orange?
The idea came a few years back in 2009. I was clearing my mind before bed and thinking of ideas, and an apple being annoyed to death came to mind. I had done talking food videos before. This night, I started laughing. And the next day I started making it, which was intended to be a one-off. After 15 episodes, we were already talking about a TV series. Things moved really quickly. Before that, I was doing a lot of different one-off videos on my main channel, as well as special effects and freelance work.
I have to ask, what’s with the teeth? Will they ever see whitening strips?
They are a happy accident. When I first started doing the videos, they were still in the development stage and I was changing skin tones in special effects. The color changes would turn the teeth yellow and I couldn’t figure out to change them back to white. I just left it that way, and it kind of became a trademark.
What’s next for the brand?
We are basically continuing on with our core series and trying new things. With Annoying Orange, we now have a web store presence, whereas before we were mostly offline in terms of merchandise. I believe our Annoying Orange stuffed toy – which is the size of a cantaloupe – is one of the best-sellers. Kids send me pics of them all the time.