Reality TV might not be as hot as it used to be, but Machinima is still seeing success with the genre online. The multi-channel network has renewed travel competition Away From Keyboard—better known as AFK—for a fourth season.
"Reality shows do well on Machinima because a huge driving factor in the success of content on digital networks is the personalities of the talent," said chief content officer for Machinima, Daniel Tibbets. "Talent that is authentic, real, personable resonates with millennials. The Machinima Network is for those that embrace their passions and do something about it. True reality programming allows the cameras to role and the fan to be along for the ride."
AFK has garnered more than 10 million views over the last three seasons. The reality series features YouTube influencers who travel across the country, competing against each other along the way in a series of challenges like roller derby, paintball and "hardcore" parkour. This season, which pits the guys behind ETC—a YouTube channel with more than 20 million views a month—against Realm with its nearly 40 million monthly views, adds new extreme challenges like ice climbing in New Hampshire and scavenger hunt in Boston.
Though Geico sponsored the first three seasons, Acura came on board for the fourth. A spokesperson for the company said it was interested because its Acura ILX is aimed at older millennials, which index higher in the gamer community. The Acura ILX will be integrated throughout season four, including having the teams drive around in the car and use the built-in GPS during the Boston scavenger hunt episode.
"I think the way in which the car is integrated is a great example of how original content for digital platforms can tell stories and feature product as important characters by solving a problem within the context of the story," Tibbets said.
Acura added that it picked AFK because it felt that its goals aligned with the digital network, and Machinima has already made a name for itself in the gamer community.
"This show has a history of being tested and proved," a spokesperson said. "It also was tied to one of the biggest gaming events of the year (PAX). Talent we used also had significant dedicated followings in the gaming space. This partnership had all the right elements that made it easy to bank on success."