Media outlet IGN Entertainment is a tour de force in video for games and geek culture across all screens.

They recently revamped their video strategy by appointing former executive producer and showrunner for ESPN’s SportsNation executive Wade Beckett as their chief programming officer and senior vice president of video.

Beckett, who’s worked in film, television and digital for over 15 years, will oversee the company’s cross-platform video initiatives, including original content, branded video production and partnerships from its Los Angeles studio.

Originally established in 1996 as an online gaming magazine and now a division of Ziff Davis, IGN programs games and entertainment content for 132 million monthly users across 12 platforms, highlighted by 20 million followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, 9 million subscribers across multiple YouTube channels and a Snapchat Discover channel.

Beckett, who also worked at Fusion and six years at NBCUniversal’s now-defunct G4, joined [a]listdaily to dish details across a gamut of topics about the current state of video, as well as how he plans on cementing IGN’s position as a leader in the space.


What insights can you share about your recent XXX: Return of Xander Cage red carpet livestream? How did this video perform compared to previous ones on Facebook?

We had an amazing experience with the team at Paramount on the livestream. From what we were told it was far and away the most successful and highly engaged they’d ever seen from a red carpet livestream. We’ve seen a flurry of other studios reaching out after the event so I think it’s safe to say we’ll be doing more. The studios know that IGN can deliver the kind of dedicated fans that go to see movies on opening weekend.

Why should Facebook livestreaming become an essential part of a brand’s video strategy?

I think it’s smart to go to where the most eyeballs are—and that’s Facebook. The live platform offers brands an easy way to reach their fans in fun and creative ways. It’s not too hard to flip the switch and go live to millions of fans eager to interact.

Which social channels are you most interested in engaging with your audience? Are you looking to test any new emerging platforms?

We’re always looking at emerging platforms, distribution partners and ways to connect with our audience. Each channel and platform functions a little different than the next and I think that’s kind of the beauty of it. We program each channel for the way the audience consumes our programming on that platform—Snapchat Discover is a little different than our Twitch channel. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and our own IGN app all have a formula for what works best. I don’t necessarily care where our audience watches—I just want them to keep coming back for more. Authenticity is the key.

Will you be shifting your strategy on Snapchat this year by tailoring more content toward that specific platform? What’s the best way you’ve learned to use it? As a distribution vehicle for existing content? Or creating original content?

I say ‘you better know your platform, because your audiences does.’ Snapchat has been a great partner and we’re extremely happy with our Discover channel. When producing for the platform, we definitely create content with the Snapchat audience in mind. Anyone who’s tried to simply re-skin existing content and slap it up on Snapchat knows it’s not going to resonate with the audience. People see right through that stuff. Along that same line of thinking, I think it’s important to know that audiences don’t mind ‘branded content’ nowadays. I think any stigma is gone when it comes to this generation. If you make an incredible video that happens to have a brand component to it—all good. The audience is still going to share it if it’s the real deal.

Wade Beckett, IGN's chief programming officer and senior vice president of video
Wade Beckett, IGN’s chief programming officer and senior vice president of video

What is your plan to shift IGN’s strategy in the original content, branded video production and partnerships space?

I don’t think the plan is to necessarily shift our current strategy. I think it’s more along the lines of expanding some of the stuff we’re doing and making some bigger, calculated bets on new original programming that’s in line with what we know our audience loves. On the branded content side, IGN has built an awesome team that’s been incredibly successful. They meet the needs of top brands—all the while creating video that we’re proud to be a part of as a brand of our own.

How will virtual reality and 360-degree content impact online video moving forward? Is it critical for brands to implement immersive VR experiences in their current marketing campaigns?

Like most other media—games, movies, television—I think it’s all about the content. Content is king. If you have a crappy product . . . it’s going to stink in 360, on the big screen, desktop, or on your subscription video on demand. There’s quite a bit of cool experimentation going on right now, IGN included, and I think that as VR and 360 video becomes more widely adopted, we’ll start to see some groundbreaking storytelling experiences. As far as brands and VR, we’re seeing some great integrations at events where fans are dipping their toes in to the high-end experiences that advertisers love.

How are video games—specifically with the emergence of eSports—impacting, or shifting your video strategy? Why is eSports a perfect place for non-endemic brands to participate?

Right now it feels a little bit like the wild west when it comes to eSports. There’s a mad dash to figure out all of the various aspects of the sport. From league rights, to team ownership, gambling, regulatory oversight, mobile, and everything in between, it’s certainly explosive. The one thing not in question—whether there is an appetite for eSports. The fans and advertisers have answered that, and we hear them loud and clear. Non-endemic brands have the opportunity to reach a younger, far more diverse audience than ever before by getting into eSports. There’s a reason why you see so many owners of established sports franchises snatching up eSports teams at such a rapid pace.


How would you best assess the current digital video market?

Insatiable. As long as your video is compelling, there’s an appetite.

How is it being consumed? What needs to change?

Video is being consumed anywhere and everywhere. We all know that at this point. There will continue to be some fundamental changes roll out across the various digital platforms that allow both publishers and platforms to better serve up great video and hopefully helps both parties’ bottom line. The subscription video on demand marketing place and skinny bundle packages will see some new players—and that’s great, too. At the end of the day, our audience knows where to find IGN and our goal is to continue to give them what they want—cool new original video series and specials, trustworthy reviews and new trailers and footage before anyone else.

How many people work in the video team?

Not as many as I’d like. I think we’ll try to make even more cool video this year and that means fresh faces and hopefully even more production partners.

You joined IGN in November to grow its cross-platform video initiatives. What’s the one big thing you’ve learned on the job so far?

I thought I knew how massive and passionate IGN fans were—and was totally surprised that the scale was far greater than I’d originally suspected. They’re fantastic and so very loyal to the brand—and span the globe in 112 countries and more than 20 different languages.

What is one emerging trend marketers need to know about video this year?

I’d tell them to ask their kids—they are ahead of all of us.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan