While television networks, movie studios and advertising companies are just figuring out how to shape its content for the digital age, Young Hollywood has already been there and thrived.
Although 34-year-old R.J. Williams originally founded the media company in 2007 (without venture capital, by the way), Young Hollywood launched in January 2012 as an original YouTube channel. Since then, it has grown to nearly 100,000 subscribers and received more than two billion views.
Today, Young Hollywood has taken over a wing of the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills where its broadcast studio is located. And it has partnered with major brands like Coca-Cola, Subway and Samsung.
Now with his eye on the next phase of the content company, Williams — a former child actor and later, television producer — explains how Young Hollywood has been able to keep itself just ahead of the digital game.
TheWrap: What has set Young Hollywood apart from other digital content producers?
R.J. Williams: It’s not just a YouTube channel. YouTube is a very important part of our strategy and I feel like if you’re in the online video space, you have to play on YouTube, but that’s a difficulty a lot of people have had, YouTube being really their only distribution mechanism, their only outlet and I think you get different demographics in different places. Like our YouTube channel skews really young, so if we want 15 to 18-year-olds, YouTube’s a great place. But if we want to skew little older than that, Yahoo’s great. And if we want a little older than that, then Hulu becomes great. So, I think that’s one strategy we’ve done.
How are you able to get your videos picked up by other entertainment companies?
We’re like Switzerland. People aren’t threatened by our content. It airs in a lot of places. “Extra’s” picked up our content, “Entertainment Tonight’s” picked up our content, our content’s been on E!, you name it, people have picked up our videos, and I know that’s difficult for a lot of places. We’ve tried to build it so that we’re not competitive with them. And we’re also not really in the breaking news game, ours is more in-depth profiles, really one-of-a-kind access. Because we’re not covering press junkets, we’re not really doing red carpets, it really is unique to us that 95 percent of the time we’re the only camera that’s there.
What’s the secret to attracting big name guests to your studio?
We don’t touch the gossip game at all, no paparazzi stuff. It’s all quotes, collaboration with the talent, so it’s something they want to be a part of, they feel comfortable with us and safe with us. When you look at the talent going to all the other online outlets, it’s usually all the same names. We get names that come to us that don’t go to the studio of other online outlets. We’ll get the caliber of names that will be doing [Jay] Leno, [Jimmy] Kimmel or David Letterman as opposed to other digital sites. The talent feels safe with us and they know they can trust us, which is not the case with most others in the digital space.
What’s the next phase of the company?
The next level is really the multi-platform approach. My background was obviously TV, but we’ve been strictly a digital brand and I’m still very dedicated to digital. It’s still very much going to be the future, but I think to be a very serious global brand, you need to be on all platforms and that goes for any company. So now, we’re exploring television, international is a big thing. Our content in different places, different platforms out there. The new generation doesn’t care where they’re watching it. They want to watch it whenever they feel in the mood. So, you want your content whether it’s consumed on your phone, on your iPad, on your TV, or your Xbox.