Industry Profile: Chideo

Combining the cause-based interests of creative artists with innovative online content to raise awareness and funds is the goal of Chideo (the name is a mash-up of “charity” and “video”). Founded by philanthropist and entrepreneur Todd Wagner in 2014, the online platform (chideo.com) offers entertainment artists and celebrities the opportunity to create original content and fan opportunities to support their charitable interests.

“The goal was to build the first digital philanthropic platform,” says Kevin Endsley, Vice President of Communications for Chideo. “If there is room in the digital world for food network platforms, style channels, YouTube, etc., then why not a cause network?”

Founder and CEO Wagner was formerly a partner with Mark Cuban. After selling their company Broadcast.com to Yahoo for more than five billion dollars several years ago, Cuban went in one direction and Wagner chose a philanthropic route.

The two later regrouped in entertainment ventures including 2929 Entertainment, distributor Magnolia Pictures and Landmark Theaters. Wagner was also involved with supporting the innovative KIPP Charter Schools and has created and funded a variety of programs for inner-city students nationally. “Chideo represents the perfect sandwich of Todd’s interests,” says Endsley. “Digital, entertainment and philanthropy.”

Wagner utilized his contacts in the entertainment and sports industries (he owns a stake in the Dallas Mavericks) to recruit initial participation, which also resulted in word-of-mouth involvement. Music artists including Linkin Park, LL Cool J, Don Henley, Darius Rucker and Clint Back provide exclusive content to the network, which includes backstage videos, interviews, as well as meet-and-greet opportunities via sweepstakes and other unique offerings. Actors, sports stars and television celebrities are also represented on channels within the platform.

Much of the content can be accessed free on the website or via the Chideo app, and some online content requires a donation to the associated cause in order. The recipient charities are typically the artist’s own foundation or one they support. Sweepstakes for fan events require a small contribution to enter.

“The goal of these platforms is to bring the charities into the digital world and bring in a younger demographic,” says Endsley. “Currently only eight percent of charitable donations are done online.” The company also assures that at least 80% of the donations go directly to the charity, a much higher figure than typical in the fundraising community.

Fans come to the site based on promotion from artist websites and social media sites, and, notably, through a distribution partnership with Sinclair Broadcasting Group. “Many people aren’t aware of this, but Sinclair Broadcasting Group is the largest owner of television stations in the country, primarily in the Midwest,” Endsley informs. Sinclair’s stations often include Chideo content on their local morning news shows, as well as through other exposure on the stations. Another example of this partnership is a one-hour live Clint Black concert that was broadcast across the stations in prime time earlier this year.

The concert was the result of a Chideo-initiated sweepstakes contest in which songwriters entered their own video performance. While the idea was for one winner to be chosen by Black and his crew to be flown to Nashville to record with Black, there was enough talent that four were chosen. A plan was hatched to produce a concert with Black and the four winners, which was picked up by Sinclair for the prime time airing. The concert was to raise awareness and funds for Black’s cause, Rett Syndrome.

Chideo has been involved with the Grammys since 2015, with exclusive backstage footage from host LL Cool J (supporting his Jump and Ball program for inner-city youth). “We had exclusive content from the red carpet at the Grammys,” Endsley says. “And instead of asking the artists who they were wearing, we asked them what they care about, what causes.”

Contact Kevin Endsley; chideo.com