TV or not TV? - That is the Question
At a session from the recent Screen Forever conference, YouTube handed out a neat booklet called The Australian Story - a snapshot of creator monetary success. Key stat - there are now over 100 Aus YouTubers making more than $100k per year from ad revenue. No surprises here for those who follow this space, but this figure made some of the SPA members pay a bit more attention.
Could it be that these newbies were making money from territory that was traditionally that of the TV producer?
On the flip-side, YouTubers making narrative content are eyeing off the stable remuneration structure that comes from a gig on FTA or pay TV.
Two-way street or cul de sac?
Which is why we are seeing a swag of narrative YouTubers making the pilgrimage to the doors of TV producers.
The smart traditional producers have seen the opportunity in the online space - mychonny, the Kates, the Hipsters and many others have migrated. The latest is Homecoming Queens going to SBS on demand, with remarkably collegiate support of Screen Qld, Film Vic and Screen Aus.
Taking a different approach to bridging the divide is Paul Walton from Princess Pictures. His approach is one of aggregation - why bring just one YouTuber across when there are many hungry for a paycheque from deep pocketed broadcasters like Foxtel?
He has put together The Slot - a 10x30 min show based on Australian YouTube creators that premieres on the Comedy Channel on December 14.
Here's a quote from the Slot Co-host Adele Vuko (Skitbox) “A lot of the creators on this show have millions of fans around the world and people who queue up to see them live. Yet many of us make little to no money and can barely make rent. This show is a great opportunity for us because now we can eat something better than Maggi noodles which are delicious, but kind of get boring after the 400th night.”
Hard to square this away with one of the show's star turns, rackaracka, who have recently bought a two-story "mansion" in Adelaide, and are moving to LA, but the sentiment is valid.
Princess has recently recruited ex-Screen Australia visionary Mike Cowap - an indication that Princess may be betting on this kind of content becoming a stream for the company.
Mike has the inside track on the AustralianYouTubers from his years at SA where he flew the flag for the new generation of creators. Mike - on behalf of the creators - thanks for a job well done.
What will we see?
The Slot is a second generation YouTube/TV hybrid. The FTAs have long cashed in in the YouTube viral video phenomenon by packaging stuff like “Delinquents make you laugh out Loud”. Really.
The Slot lifts this game to another level by playing into the curiosity of the Foxtel viewer who's heard of the Hipsters and the rackas and is now curious to peek through the window into the world they inhabit. It’s kinda “Rage” guest programmer for YouTube videos.
I can’t imagine that YouTube fanboys will sign up for Foxtel just to watch The Slot unless there is some compelling new content from the YouTube stars.
According to the media release, there will be some new content. Whether this means “never before seen” YouTube-bound videos that are pre-released on TheSlot or stuff that has been specially produced for the show remains to be seen.
What's the Deal?
The deal structure for a groundbreaking show like The Slot would have been a lot of fun to put together. The producers would have to deal with content in a few states of exposure. Stuff that is already exposed on YouTube, new stuff made for the show and so on.There could be a myriad of options - creators not paid for The Slot content that is already on YouTube but given a one-time fee for their stuff and their appearance on the show. Exclusive new content paid for at an agreed rate and made available to the creators after a Foxtel window. And so on - in this environment, the deal could be much more creative.
Will it work?
The Slot launches on December 14th on The Comedy Channel.
I can see it working perfectly if:
- the style of presentation is sufficiently anarchic to confirm Foxtel viewers' perception that Youtube creators inhabit some weird meta verse.
- the new content is compelling to hold viewers who are familiar with the oeuvre.
- The hosts/guests fire.
But win lose or draw, it's a landmark show and one that will be keenly watched by the industry.