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IAC’€™s Van Veen thinks notionally

Notional is the production company set up by Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp (IAC) earlier this year and run by Collegehumor.com founder Ricky Van Veen.

Notional announced an initial development slate in November that included series Ready, Set, Dance, gameshow You Vs America, reality prank series Chase The Money and FremantleMedia-distributed dating show Love Taxi.

It will work alongside Electus, Ben Silverman’s recently launched, IAC-backed, production company.
The company is also currently producing the The Food Network’s Chopped, which is going into its fourth season and HGTV’s building series Don’t Sweat It, which is in production of its ninth series. This follows the hiring of City Lights’ former president of production Dave Noll, who is now president of TV at Notional.
TBI caught up with Ricky Van Veen to talk about the strategy behind the company, its plans for new shows and its approach to the international TV business.

How did Notional come about?
The back story is that almost ten years ago we created a comedy website College Humor, which was a repository of lots of user generated content and videos. We weren’t doing a lot of original content. Then we were acquired by Barry Diller in 2006 and we had the resources to make our own content.
I say that we are the best at making content directly for the web. To make that content we built up an old studio model with writers, actors and producers all churning out content, up to 10 videos a week.
My boss Barry then said he’d like us to expand to make video for all formats because there’s more money in TV.

What’s the strategy behind the company?
We’re taking the DNA of an Internet company, the cost efficiencies and the buzziness. The first question is how would you sum up a show in one link. I started to say this to TV execs and they agreed that it was tougher to break through unless you could sum up your show in one sentence. We’ve hired six people from City Lights Media, including Dave Noll.
The plan for the first year is to get profitable and to get shows on the air. We’re doing new seasons of Chopped and Don’t Sweat It, [which were previously produced by City Lights Media].

Was it vital to highlight your production experience?

[Yes], no network wants to be the first at the dance.

When do you expect to get series like Ready, Set, Dance and Love Taxi on the air?
A lot of these shows are a good fit for the [broadcast] network’s summer schedules. This slate is for our big network shows, but we’re also working on some buzzy formats for cable networks.

Will you be working with Ben Silverman and his Electus company?
Ben and I are working very closely. IAC has a content division and we’re all part of the same team. We’re partnering up on a couple of projects, we’re already working on things. Ben will announce his whole plan and slate soon.

Have you thought about the international side of the business?
We went to MIPCOM in October and that was interesting because it was our first [glimpse] of the international marketplace. We took Ready, Set, Dance there. We went to introduce ourselves and a bunch of distributors were interested. We want to think about the scalability of these shows and make formats that translate internationally.