She might play a ditz on the web, but Jesse Draper is serious when it comes to building a business out of her pink-clad alter ego.
Draper recently launched the fourth season of her “Valley Girl Show,” an Internet-based series featuring her interviews with business people and entrepreneurs from prominent companies. The latest season features interviews with Visa Chief Executive Joseph Saunders and Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg. And Draper has signed distribution deals that could expose the show to many more viewers.
It’s all part of her plan to turn her business, Valley Girl Inc., into a new-media company complete with webisodes, blogs and possibly even radio and TV shows.
“What we’re trying to create is this Valley Girl media network,” she said. “The show is our main thing and that’s what’s been the best for us as far as branding and financially. We’re working on everything from books to shows to blogs.”
When Draper first launched “Valley Girl Show” in 2008, she filmed it from her parents’ Silicon Valley garage. The show’s primary distribution platforms were the website, ValleyGirl.tv, and online video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo.
Instead of relying on the viral nature of YouTube to grow her audience in her fourth season, which began Nov. 15, Draper decided to search for distribution deals that would put her show on more platforms.
She now has contracts with about 30 distribution outlets. They include IndoorDirect, which runs programming for televisions found at fast-food restaurants such as Taco Bell and KFC, and Mediafly, which runs Valley Girl’s apps for smart phones and tablets, and distributes the show on Internet TV boxes such as Roku and Boxee. Valley Girl also licenses programming to Internet TV sites such as GlamTV and AOL for syndication on their online networks.
Last season, Draper’s videos averaged between 10,000 and 15,000 viewers. That’s respectable for a niche show, but it’s only a fraction of what the top web shows get, said Marc Hustvedt, editor of L.A. online video blog Tubefilter News. The top 100 shows on YouTube, such as “Annoying Orange,” bring in about 1 million views per episode.
But Hustvedt said Draper is taking the right approach to growing her audience.
“If you’re not on a major distribution platform like television, you have to use every means necessary to build an audience,” he said. “She’s got some creative partnerships.”
Draper, who studied theater at UCLA and starred in a Nickelodeon show called “Naked Brothers Band,” is the daughter of Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper. She grew up around the technology pioneers who make headlines today, and said the idea for the show was to create an interview series where they could have a little fun.
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