LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "America's Funniest Home Videos," the original user-generated content brand entering its 25th year on ABC, is wrapping its arms around animated GIFs in hopes of burnishing its cool factor among younger audiences.
The show, produced by Vin Di Bona Prods., has inked a partnership with image-hosting site Imgur to feature content from classic episodes and the current season -- which premieres Sunday, Oct. 12, on the Alphabet net -- packaged into looping GIFs.
Starting Friday, Imgur (pronounced "imager") will feature the top 25 GIFs from the "AFV" corpus on its homepage. Then, starting with the Nov. 9 episode, "AFV" will promote its Imgur page on-air, directing viewers to a collection of the five best GIFs from that week's episode located at afvofficial.imgur.com. According to the companies, no money is changing hands under the partnership.
The "AFV" deal with Imgur is part of a larger digital push by the show in its silver-jubilee year. Under an expanded pact with Disney's Maker Studios, YouTube star Shay "Shay Carl" Butler will host "ShayFV," a weekly, 17-episode series set to premiere on Maker.tv and the Shaytards YouTube channel on Oct. 19, among other cross-platform projects. Both the Maker and Imgur deals augment what "AFV" has been doing on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and other social sites for the last few years.
"We're always looking for ways to present the content in a new and fresh light, and give it other dimensions of utility," said Lisa Black, EVP of content, revenue and biz dev for Vin Di Bona Prods.
Imgur, whose investors include Andreessen Horowitz and Reddit, has more than 130 million monthly active users who are largely aged 18-35, a demographic that "AFV" is interested in reaching.
Goofy baby tricks and stupid animal stunts certainly appeal to Imgur's base, according to Black. In fact, Vin Di Bona Prods. discovered that millennials were already sharing "AFV" content prolifically online on Imgur and Reddit, among other services -- but that users were not always aware of its origin.
"We started to see people making GIFs out of our videos (on Imgur) but they had absolutely no idea it was our content," Black said, explaining what drove the production company to partner with Imgur.
Instead of approaching the image-hosting site with demands to remove its content, "AFV" opted to try to harness the viral user trend. "They're coming at it from the right perspective, saying, 'Let's figure out how we retain attribution, and be part of the conversation," said Imgur COO Matt Strader.
"AFV" has engaged with Imgur before, ableit tactically: show host Tom Bergeron (who also emcees ABC's "Dancing with the Stars") posted an animated GIF of a raccoon rolling across the floor this past April from "America's Funniest Home Videos" -- which has been viewed more than 3 million times. That came after Bergeron participated in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" chat last October.
All told, under the Imgur partnership, "AFV" expects to post about 250 animated GIFs to the site this season. The goals are to drive tune-in for the show on ABC and, alternatively, to promote consumption of "AFV" episodes on subscription VOD services Netflix and Hulu.