By Sahil Patel
It’s a big day for web video as Collective Digital Studio, Rocket Jump Studios, and creators Freddie Wong and Matt Arnold premiere the second season of “Video Game High School,” a scripted action/comedy that follows a group of students at an elite video gaming academy.
A lot of eyes are going to be on the second season, which was co-produced by CDS and Rocket Jump Studios, as the industry searches for a “hit” to claim as its own. The first season of “Video Game High School” collected over 55 million views across nine episodes and related/behind-the-scenes content (that doesn’t include the number of people who have watched the first season in its two-hour feature film version on Netflix). While it’s difficult to argue that that wasn’t a hit, the first season consisted entirely of short-form episodes. The second season will span six TV-length episodes (30 minutes or longer), making it somewhat easier, at least on the surface, to compare the show to what you see on TV.
Based on what I hear from CDS, the network welcomes that comparison. Alex Angeledes, chief revenue officer at CDS, says CDS is a hits-driven MCN looking to create premium content in a hits-driven business. “We believe that if brands are going to shift significant dollars from linear television to digital video, then they’re going to want to leverage the most premium, high-demand content and know exactly where their brand is being featured,” he says. According to Angeledes, that’s why CDS focuses on channels like Freddie W, Annoying Orange, and Epic Meal Time, which produce premium content with a “distinct voice” and on a “consistent weekly schedule” for Millennial consumers. The belief is that this, and the scale that comes with it, is more attractive to top brands than aggregating thousands of channels into a network.
And speaking of top advertisers, Dodge is on board as the second season’s presenting sponsor. The Dodge Dart will be featured in the series’ drift racing sequences as “The Hero Car” according to Angeledes (come back later today for a profile we did on Angeledes, in which he talks about the Dodge deal and working with Freddie Wong and crew). Taco Bell is another advertiser for the second season.
The season, which was funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $800,000, was shot in a mixed frame rate. The live-action video game scenes in each episode were shot at 48 fps (a technique used by Peter Jackson for last winter’s “The Hobbit”), while the other scenes were shot at 24 fps. To watch this version, you will have to go to RocketJump.com, which will offer the series via a special video player created by CDS. The series will also be available on YouTube, but won’t feature this custom viewing experience.* (Personally, I’m a big believer in watching something the way the creator intends, so definitely check it out on RocketJump.com.)
Similar to season one of “Video Game High School,” CDS has a deal in place with Netflix to make the series available on the streaming service at a later date. And while nothing has been announced, Angeledes told me that with the show featuring TV-length episodes as well, international distribution is not out of the equation either.
The series was partially shot at YouTube Space LA, which was also the site for the season’s red carpet premiere last night.
Check it out. I’m sure we’ll be talking more about the show over the next month or so.
*Hey, remember all that talk about off-YouTube strategies for the site’s content creators and media companies? Yep.