Next-Generation Media Startup Bedrocket Media Ventures Raises $15 Million From NEA

Ryan Lawler

Look at the number of videos being viewed online and the amount of money being thrown at them, and it’s no wonder we’re seeing a whole bunch of new media ventures. Thanks to lower costs of production and distribution, as well as the ability to find and engage with viewers, and you’ll see it’s never been a better time to be making high-quality video content. With that in mind, Bedrocket Media Ventures, which is based in New York City and has 30 employees, just snagged a $15 million funding round from New Enterprise Associates.

Bedrocket was founded by serial entrepreneur and TV executive Brian Bedol, in partnership with Ken Lerer, general partner of Lerer Ventures and co-founder of the Huffington Post. Bedol has spent much of his career creating new TV networks and then selling them to major media conglomerates. He founded Classic Sports Network, which sold to ESPN and became ESPN Classic, as well as College Sports Television, which was acquired by CBS and turned into CBS College Sports Network.

But Bedol sees a huge opportunity for a new type of media venture, thanks to massive shifts in digital distribution and social sharing. “In the cable business,” Bedol told me by phone the other day, “the power was in control of the gatekeepers.” But now, thanks to lower cost of production and distribution, practically anyone can create high-quality video content and make it available, without being at the mercy of network execs or Hollywood producers. Just as important, the rise of social media means that movies and shows can be more efficiently marketed online, without spending huge sums on TV ad dollars.

Bedrocket is showing this on YouTube, where it has launched four networks as part of the site’s original programming initiative. Those include Network A, an action sports network; Look TV, a style network; KickTV, a soccer channel; and Official Comedy.

But Bedrocket is more than just a production firm for making YouTube channels. It also helped produce Sleepwalk With Me, a comedy written by, directed by, and starring comedian Mike Birbiglia. The film, which won the Best of NEXT Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, was able to leverage the social presence of Birbiglia, as well as co-producer Ira Glass, to post the largest opening weekend in the history of the IFC Center in New York City and get wider distribution nationwide than can be expected for that type of indie film.

Bedrocket is also making investments of its own in other new media companies, such as VHX and Fullscreen. And it’s formed a joint venture with interactive design firm to create Bedrock Interlude Media. Altogether, it’s the story of a company which wants to be able to play in all sorts of digital markets.