Ellen DeGeneres took social media by storm during the 2014 Academy Awards when she tweeted a selfie taken with a group of celebrities – including Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence – that became the most viral photo ever on the platform, with more than 3.3 million retweets.
Now, DeGeneres, 58, and her team are working to extend the social media reach of her syndicated “The Ellen Show” with the launch of Ellen Digital Network, a production division developing six original online shows featuring guests popular on her TV show, many of whom are already social media stars. The biggest name among the group is probably YouTube video blogger Tyler Oakley, 26, who boasts more than 8 million subscribers on the streaming platform.
Most of DeGeneres’ digital content since 2014 has been launched through Burbank’s Ellen Digital Ventures, a two-year-old joint venture with Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Its flagship property is EllenTube.com – a website where fans can watch clips from her show, funny amateur videos (think cats and dancing), and original shorts.
The company decided to launch the digital production arm as a way to create more content in-house, expand its audience, and broaden its revenue streams, said Jill Braff, general manager of Ellen Digital Ventures.
“The birth of Ellen Digital Network is our team creating a network for brands and advertising to partner with us,” she said, adding that DeGeneres’ Oscar stunt was not just a slapdash attempt to increase millennial Twitter followers. It was part of a conscious effort to engage with users online and offer them new – yet familiar – entertainment that’s tailored to specific platforms.
DeGeneres makes a point to adopt social media early and often, said Braff.
“If you look back, the show was very early involved with Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, long before they were the powerhouses they are today,” she said, noting that DeGeneres made a Facebook Live video with rapper Nicki Minaj the day it launched.
This approach combined with DeGeneres’ knack for inserting herself into internet conversations about pop culture has helped “Ellen Show” rack up a massive online following of roughly 60 million Twitter fans and 24 million “likes” on Facebook. Clips of talk show have also been viewed more than 8.5 billion times on YouTube.
“Ellen’s dominance in daytime TV was absolutely translating into a digital audience that was complimentary to what was being created on TV,” said Braff.