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Smosh, ScreenJunkies and friends might be headed to TV, their boss says

Defy Media President Keith Richman sees $$$ signs in TV.

The 5th Annual Streamy Awards - Inside Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions

Defy Media President Keith Richman oversees a lot of big internet celebrities, including YouTube wunderkinds Smosh, “Honest Trailers” maker ScreenJunkies and young-Hollywood experts Clevver. All told, Defy has 70 million YouTube subscribers watching 800 million videos a month.

But Richman knows there’s still money on the table. Or, more accurately, money on the TV set.

“Over time, there will be a great correlation between dollars paid and what people watch,” Richman said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. However: “There’s a lot of people who make a lot of money for programs that a very small number of people watch.”

In non-industry speak, that means that the ad dollars are still better on television, and Defy is thinking about jumping in. Richman said he wasn’t deterred by the lousy ratings of Viceland, the cable channel recently launched by fellow digital brand Vice.

“No matter what platform we’ve been on, we’ve managed to find an audience that really likes our content,” he said. “TV is just another platform. It just happens to be one that today might monetize better.”

How exactly Defy would get into TV might be as simple as programming a two-hour block of shows, or more ambitious, on a Viceland scale. Richman pointed out that Defy, the product of a 2013 merger between Break Media and Alloy Digital, currently produces 72 shows per week, with only 375 employees.

You can listen to Recode Media in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher. After this bonus episode, we’ll have another interview this Thursday — in that one, Peter talks to Brew Media founder Brooke Hammerling.

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