YouTube hosted its first-ever Television Critics Assn. (TCA) presentation at YouTube Space LA on Friday morning, and it had an introductory feel befitting its freshman status.
Rather than take a deep dive into the programming strategies behind its subscription service YouTube Red, launched last fall, linear TV-minded, out-of-town TCA journalists who were bused in from the Beverly Hilton were given a course in YouTube 101.
“While many of you are deeply, deeply familiar with content on network and broadcast TV, the truth is that online video is exploding and it’s overtaking social media as the number one activity online,” YouTube’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl told the crowd in his introductory remarks. “And the youngest millennials are already watching more internet video than they are television.”
The bulk of the presentation was dedicated to discussions with talent from previously-announced upcoming YouTube Red programming led by Susanne Daniels (pictured), YouTube’s VP of originals.
YouTube star and Maker Studios co-founder Shay Carl told the crowd that he wanted to make the upcoming YouTube Red feature documentary “Vlogumentary,” exploring the lives of YouTube vloggers, “because [it answers] the question in all of your minds right now: ‘What? You can make money on YouTube? How is that possible?”
When a journalist in the audience questioned whether their professional opinions even mattered to young YouTube fans, “Vlogumentary” executive producer Morgan Spurlock (“Super-Size Me”) delivered the bad news.
“There is a hot, core, molten lava center that is the YouTube audience that, ultimately… no matter what you write, no matter you say is ever going to make those people care less or more,” said Spurlock.
Daniels also conducted on-stage interviews with YouTube duo Rhett & Link, who star in the scripted comedy series “Rhett & Link’s Buddy System,” and the creative team behind the Wong Fu Productions romantic dramedy series “Single by 30.”
Following the presentation, journalists were given a tour of YouTube Space LA.
There were only three new YouTube Red programming announcements at the event:
“The Thinning”: A sci-fi feature co-written and directed by Michael J. Gallagher (“Internet Famous”) set in a dying world where population control is dictated by an aptitude test in high school. When two students Blake (Logan Paul) and Laina (Peyton List) discover the test is all smoke and mirrors hiding a larger conspiracy, they decide to expose it and take it down. Produced by Legendary Digital Media, Kids At Play and Cinemand, the film shot last December. Release date: Fall 2016.
“Me and My Grandma” (working title): A half-hour comedy series starring YouTube fashion and beauty guru Eva Gutowski (MyLifeAsEva) about a 21-year-old woman and her sixty-something grandma trying to make it in Hollywood. Release date: Early 2017. It is executive produced by Gutowski, Select Next’s Adam Wescott and Scott Fisher, writer Annie Stamell (“How to Survive High School” and showrunner Jill Condon (“Friends,” “The Cosby Show,” “Grounded for Life”).
“Lazer Team 2”: In this sequel to Rooster Teeth’s debut feature, which had its streaming premiere on YouTube Red in February, the government sends the Lazer Team into the farthest reaches of space to battle Earth’s alien attackers. Produced by Fullscreen Media and Rooster Teeth, it stars Rooster Teeth co-founder and CCO Burnie Burns alongside Gavin Free (The Slow Mo Guys) and Michael Jones (Achievement Hunter). Release date: Late 2017.
YouTube Red also announced premiere dates for the reality-competition show “Fight of the Living Dead: Experiment 88” (Aug. 17) and “Single By 30” (Aug. 24) and “Rhett & Link’s Buddy System” (Fall 2016).