Andy Signore wants to be taken seriously–and he’s fully aware that may be somewhat of a challenge as the creator of Honest Trailers, a wildly popular YouTube channel that gives comedically blunt breakdowns of blockbuster films.
Since the first “honest trailer” for Star Wars: Episode I–The Phantom Menace‘s 3D release in 2012, Signore and his team have managed to spin that viral hit into the media company Screen Junkies, which houses a multitude of digital shows all focused on film and TV. The challenge for Signore, who is also senior vice president of content for Screen Junkies’s parent company DEFY Media, has been keeping his flagship entity fresh while establishing a brand that can prove its more than trailer spoofs.
“The whole plan is to figure how can we be seen as not just an internet brand. How can people think of us as an authority in film and TV, with more of a comedic take than regular entertainment shows?” Signore says.
Signore has said before that he ultimately sees Screen Junkies as the ESPN of film and TV: a digital network with a similar commentary format but, of course, with “nerdier debates.”
“I do think there’s a hole for that right now, and we’re doing really well at building enough credibility to get us to that point where we can then become that authority,” Signore says.
In addition to Honest Trailers being nominated for an Emmy last year and hitting its 200th video milestone this month, part of building that credibility has been proving financial stability and audience engagement outside of YouTube.
Screen Junkies added its subscription service, Screen Junkies Plus, in 2015 as a means to offer premium content for viewers willing to pay $5 per month. That supplemental revenue stream has allowed Screen Junkies to venture into new territory, namely documentaries. Signore announced earlier this month that several documentaries are currently in the works–the first one on deck for a release later this year profiles the 1999 cult classic Galaxy Quest.
“It’s really about figuring out what the audience would like and what also fuels our passion,” Signore says. “If we don’t give them what they want, we’re out of business. But what are we really excited about and how can we flex our muscles, creatively?”
Honest Trailers will always be a part of Signore’s creative DNA. However, he’s positioning Screen Junkies not only as an extension of film and TV-related content but as a company that will be able to stand on its own without relying too heavily on YouTube’s platform.
“You need to make sure you have multiple ways to reach [your audience] because at the end of the day YouTube’s algorithm can change however they want–they can flip a switch and suddenly your numbers start going away. I know views are down on a lot of channels out there and people are complaining about it,” Signore says. “I think we’re very lucky with Honest Trailers, but I don’t consider us in the YouTube business–I consider us in the content business and YouTube is a platform that we respect and [utilize]. That’s why a [Screen Junkies Plus] was born.”
“So don’t just see us as Honest Trailers,” Signore goes on to say. “We’re a legit brand trying to make amazing content from our point of view and in our voice–that’s the goal moving forward.”