Brian Robbins, Founder, Awesomeness TV
97.1 million views
A former actor (Head of the Class), Robbins has had a long career in TV, followed by directing and producing young-skewing shows like Fred and One Tree Hill.
On Awesomeness TV: “I’m not convinced that my ultimate goal is not to make a 60-minute program that is consumed on YouTube. We’re a boredom killer. Half of our views are mobile. I don’t think we’re in the lean-back viewing business at all. Kids are just used to having a lot thrown at them.”
Started in 2010 by film school pals Freddie Wong (top) and Brandon Laatsch (below)—Freddiew was the name of Wong’s YouTube account
5.3 million subscribers
826 million views
Wong: “The distance between creator and fan, it’s a different relationship. YouTube’s a very personal thing. If we get recognized, people say, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ They literally talk in the same way [as an old friend]. They’ve already spent hundreds of hours with me. There is a huge generation shift going on. One group is only getting older and dying out.”
Laatsch: “Everybody thinks you’ve made it when you’re working in movies, but in straight-to-DVD releases, you end up in something that was creatively unfulfilling…We knew there had to be lots of other nerds like us watching videos on YouTube.”
A next-gen foodie channel co-founded by Steven Kydd
9.2 million views
The company also reps chef Rob Nixon’s channel, Nicko’s Kitchen
78.1 million views
Kydd (r.): “Look at the cable analogy. We have multiple channels in our barbecue network. That allows us to have a scaled audience there that TV would never have…This is about high production values and HD cameras. We are building this so it looks just as amazing on TV as the Web.”
Nixon (l.): “I was working for Qantas. During my three days off, I would film and upload to YouTube. It was just purely, I wanted to share my vision for food. I’ve been doing this for five years now. This is how I make a living.”
The First Creative Class
Wendy Nguyen (l.)
Nguyen’s channel, Wendy’s Look Book:
379,494 subs, 43.8 million views.
She and her boyfriend, Mystery Man, produce videos on fashion (they burst on the scene with the viral 25 Ways to Wear a Scarf). “YouTube is a very emotional experience for your audience. When you’re not consistent, they get a little upset,” she says.
John Elerick (center)
Elerick’s channel: 330,847 subs, 62.7 million views.
He made his name with a series of Apple spoofs and The Gentlemen’s Rant, which takes on dating, drinking and guy issues. ”If I miss a week, I see a drop,” says Elerick. “But I’ve posted things I haven’t been happy with. Forcing creativity is tough, too.”
Taryn Southern (r.)
Taryn TV: 155,869 subs, 14.1 million views.
Experimenting with comedic songs like Guys, They Just Want to Bang You. “I spent a lot of time in the class working one-on-one with product engineers and data guys,” she says. “I got really excited about all that stuff.”
Veteran Web video host/star/geek idol. Brains behind Web series The Guild. Now appears on Supernatural. Her channel Geek & Sundry features a more traditional schedule and formats, including series like TableTop, focused around the world of games like Dungeons & Dragons.
48.3 million views
Day: “I’ve seen so many evolving crests and waves [in Web video] that have just sort of dissipated. The fact that a tech company invests this much no matter what, it’s a turning point.
“There are all sorts of viable formats that are emerging as standards, [including talking to a camera]. To me it’s: What do I do well? What do I respond to? I tend to like character-driven things…so that’s the approach for Geek & Sundry.
“My theory for the channel is, represent the unrepresented. I had a fan tell me recently she grew up watching me. I’m only 33!”
Born of a blog aimed at Asian Americans called You Offend Me, You Offend My Family, the channel took off with help from a breakout video featuring YouTube star Ryan Higa and Jessica Alba. Shooting the finale of its series Internet Icon at the YouTube Space studios in L.A.
32.9 million views
Founder Abdul Khan (l.): “Over time, what we’ve seen is, the money has gotten better...I think you’re going to see bigger brand deals. You’re going to also be working with a higher cost basis.”
YouTube performer Chester See (r.): “There’s this negative connotation to user-generated content among brands. And with premium channels, we’re trying to eliminate that feeling with a higher quality product...Yes, the economics don’t reflect traditional media, but this is an investment in the future. There will be a time where big revenue will come in. It won’t feel like such a big gamble.”
iJustine: the Grizzled Veteran
1.5 million subs
285 million views
One of the first YouTube talents to attract attention from big brands, iJustine (Justine Ezarik) has been active on the platform since 2006. She's worked with brands such as GE, Mattel, Call of Duty, and Intel. And she's also appear on TV shows like The Vampire Diaries and Law and Order: SVU
"I need to find a reason to shoot at the new YouTube Space. It's just exciting. If this were around when I started it would have been a dream come true. I've spent the past six years building different studios in every house that I've had or every apartment."
"What YouTube is doing is interesting. In a way it's very Hollywood. Throwing money at something. Some things works, some things don't. I think it's a good thing. A lot of people that want to do these channels but couldn't. I've done so many videos with a smaller budget. When I think personally of the amazing things I could do with a funded channel, I think wow. One of my favorites is SourceFed."
Re: brand deals "This is not something that happens overnight….being a part of something I like and my audience likes is valuable. I'm being authentic to them. Finding creative ways to do that is the easy part and the hard part."
"You can't just take deals because someone is offering money. People need to read contracts and get lawyers. A lot of content creators are selling themselves short."