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Monday, September 22nd, 2014


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Leaders of the next gen: A late night republic by and for the people

In Malcolm Gladwell’s best selling classic, “The Tipping Point,” he brilliantly describes the often misunderstood causes of social movements – the inauspicious birth, unremarkable, measured growth, and yet, ultimately, as if driven by the unseen hand of providence, that magical culmination of people and events, “the tipping point” is reached, and things explode into a full-fledged epidemic. Gladwell claims that “key” people promoting an idea with adequate “stickiness,” and operating in favorable conditions, can generate enough momentum to empower an idea to rocket onto the scene, seemingly overnight.

So, in today’s world of twenty four hour news and entertainment, and the explosion of social media, when everyone is clamoring for a piece of the public’s attention, what does the young enterprising entertainment entrepreneur do? Does he look to network television where choices made favor predictable venues offering familiar, “safe” options? Or, taking a page from “The tipping Point,” does one employ another, more thoughtfully, original approach? And if so, how does one find those right people, create something special and addictive, and, present it at both the right time and in the right place?

Well Mr. Gladwell, late-night television’s newest contender, “Late Night Republic with Jake Sasseville,” is paying attention. Jake Sasseville, Late Night Republic’s host, along with his business partner and Exec. Producer, Travis Granfar, are changing late night television landscape – the duo have created an independent syndication model funded directly by advertisers, and actually develop their show’s content with direct input from their Gen Y fan base.

Jake, at only twenty- four years of age, is no stranger to cutting-edge television. He was the creator and host of “The Edge with Jake Sasseville” which launched on ABC affiliates in 2008 and later went into syndication. Jake was featured in Young Money in 2008 and is back with “Late Night Republic with Jake Sasseville”, his new and grown up late night talk show. That “grown-upness” comes from his partnership with Travis Granfar, a former legal superstar who went from Wall Street lawyer to television producer after meeting the infectious Sasseville.

“They make a complimentary team,” says Jeff Eisenberg, who has been one of Sasseville’s executive producers since 2007. “One is focused on being a global phenomenon inspiring billions, and the other is focused on building a global business. It works.”

This is not the first time a strong-willed, charismatic front man entertainer partners with a smart and savvy business person. Oprah Winfrey and Jeffrey Jacobs launched HARPO into a billion dollar global empire, U2s Bono and Paul McGuinness have successfully remained relevant for thirty years in the music business and Rosie O’Donnell and Bernie Young made “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” several hundred million dollars during its six-year run.

Jake and Travis have created a unique hybrid parent company. It is part late night talk show, ad agency, in-house PR firm, digital agency and promotions and strategy firm. And their fresh approach has attracted the best in “next gen” TV producers and content creators, who, along with a team of veteran network executives, are poised to remain ahead of the curve.
“After twenty-years selling TV shows working at MGM, Viacom and Saturday Night Live, I have never come across a talent-business team like Jake Sasseville and Travis Granfar,” says David Steinfeld, the show’s syndicator and television veteran. “They are like lightening in a bottle, and I am so proud to be a part of their organization.”

The result, as seen by their skyrocketing numbers, is that their fresh new style embodies the “stickiness” needed to keep their growing fan base enthralled.

“Late Night Republic is nearly hitting a 1.0 rating weekly,” said the programming director for Milwaukee’s CW. The show airs at midnight there. “It’s rare for a syndicated show to hit a .6 in our market, especially a newer one like Late Night Republic.” In major markets all around the country, Late Night Republic received such high ratings during November sweeps that that programming execs were forced to move the show to earlier time slots in order to cash in.

Late Night Republic is deconstructing every aspect of the late night television experience – from guests to wardrobe, musicians to the studio set; and the comedy segments are being rebuilt with viewers weighing in on every aspect. By mobilizing people from all across the country, not only in LA or New York, their fans are placed in the driver’s seat, allowing them a chance to weigh in on content creation producing, comedy suggestions, and guest selection. They are serving a hungry generation a delicious treat; and the golden apple is so very ripe for the picking; and Gen Y is taking notice in a big way.
And the time and place seems to be just right for this brash young group of upstarts.

As viewership has grown, they have certainly caught Madison Avenue’s eye, attracting over two million in advertising. Procter and Gamble, the world’s largest advertiser, jumped on board in mid-2010, followed by the Lance Armstrong endorsed FRS Healthy Energy. And brands like Coca-Cola’s Fuze brand, Denny’s, Overstock.com, AirTran Airways have all put their advertising muscle behind Late Night Republic.

“We find them very original and very creative when it comes to marketing,” says Amy Tunick, president of Alliance, a division of Grey Group in New York City. “The Pringles brand stands for fun. It’s playfully eccentric just like Jake… not to mention the 360° marketing format of Late Night Republic.”

So, what would Malcolm Gladwell say? Is Late Night Republic bearing down on the tipping point of stardom? The slowing moving masses always wait for the innovators to have their new ideas tested by others more daring to try something new. For this anti-establishment and nontraditional duo, Travis Granfar and Jake Sasseville, the waters have been tested, and like the inevitability of the rising tide, the answer is a resounding yes.

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