Some time over the weekend, a “Happy Tree Friends” episode titled “Eyes Cold Lemonade” hit 50 million views. To celebrate, Mondo Media created an infographic breaking down just who exactly is still watching the cute-but-gruesome clip from 2007. The data also reveals just how big of a global audience the San Francisco web-based entertainment company actually has — with Ethiopia, for instance, sharing the episode more than any other country.
Co-creator and animator Kenn Navarro thinks the lack of “an identifiable language helps”with that international audience, saying in a phone interview each episode is put it through the “Martian test” which asks, “Will a Martian understand it?”
The lack of decipherable words was a “fluke,” Navarro said, and was not intentionally done as a ploy to attract a global following. It was “born out of our laziness,” added Navarro, because when different Mondo Media founders “worked on other shows, we saw how writers and directors would struggle with dialogue.” Laziness or … 21st century genius?
As for how “Eyes Cold Lemonade” hit 50 million views — which is more than the viewership of the 2013 Oscars and most music videos — Navarro thinks the extremely high view count is two things: first, people keep sharing it because it has a discernible cringe-worthy moment involving an eyeball, and second, because of the way YouTube now recommends content.
While the reasons for “Happy Tree Friends’” international appeal may indeed be “a fluke,” Mondo Media’s success on the video sharing platform is nothing but a well-executed investment into the future.
In an email, Mondo Media CEO John Evershed explained how the company was one of the first to seriously invest in digital content, in part because it had already been doing so since 2000 (in fact, Mondo Media was getting 15 million views per month before YouTube even existed). Most media companies didn’t think about investing into YouTube content until Google’s $150 million investment into original content in 2011, but Mondo Media had been there for four years already, which is why then, that AdAge named the Mondo Media the most viewed channel of all time in January.
“We committed to YouTube early in 2007. I think we might have been the 7th commercial partner to sign with them at the time. It was very clear early on that YouTube was going to be the big dance. We went against the grain at the time and uploaded millions of dollars worth of content — episodes like Happy Tree Friends “Eyes Cold Lemonade.” I’m glad we did. Now there’s a global generation of kids that think Happy Tree Friends is bigger than Mickey Mouse.”
And without further ado, here is Mondo Media’s infographic dedicated to “Eyes Cold Lemonade.”