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YouTube: Hollywood's Hit Factory for Teen Entertainment

YouTube Hollywood s Hit Factory for Teen Entertainment Businessweek


What was also happening quickly, he noticed, was that several new media companies in Los Angeles were amassing billions of monthly video views on YouTube not only by creating material but also by bundling together existing channels into what the people were starting to call multichannel networks, or MCNs. Rather than create all the programming themselves, the MCNs were recruiting tens of thousands of independent YouTube creators, from the semiprominent to the obscure. Each of the MCNs offered a slightly different slate of services, but they generally promised aspiring YouTube talent that, for a cut of gross revenue (typically 30 percent), the MCN would get them more attention and make them more money. Sign up with us, kid, we’ll make you a star. “Nothing beats when a kid makes a sketch for us and he does a great job, and you say to him, ‘We think you’re really talented. Why don’t you write a movie?’ ” says Robbins.

The MCNs were attempting to solve a problem that had bedeviled YouTube throughout its short history—how to organize such a vast and chaotic programming environment in a way that makes sense for viewers, creators, and advertisers. In November 2012, six months or so after launching AwesomenessTV, Robbins and his colleagues posted an invitation on their channel. Anyone interested in becoming the next big YouTube phenom was encouraged to join AwesomenessTV as a member of what they dubbed the ATV Network. “I was sitting here thinking that the kids who are watching our content on the Awesomeness channel are the same kids who are uploading content to YouTube,” says Robbins. “So why not try and make them part of the Awesomeness community for real?”

The following morning, Robbins and his colleagues arrived at work expecting to find a few hundred requests to join. They found 4,500 instead. In the months to come, the numbers kept growing. Almost overnight, Robbins had transformed AwesomenessTV from a boutique YouTube production house into a teen entertainment factory. Within a year, he had venture capitalists visiting each week looking to invest, and in May 2013, Robbins announced he was selling AwesomenessTV to DreamWorks Animation (DWA), the publicly traded Hollywood studio, for $33 million upfront, plus $84 million in potential payouts down the road. AwesomenessTV now has 88,000 channels with 54 million YouTube subscribers, collectively generating 1 billion monthly video views. Nobody is second-guessing Robbins’s career move any longer.

Stashed in: Young Americans, YouTube!, Active Users, Consumer Trends

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"AwesomenessTV now has 88,000 channels with 54 million YouTube subscribers, collectively generating 1 billion monthly video views."

Mother of God.

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