YouTube is no longer the Web site that only shows home videos of babies and pets. It has opened high-tech production studios in London, New York, Los Angeles and most recently, Tokyo. The aim is to improve the quality of what is on YouTube at a time when the Internet is becoming the main source of entertainment for the younger generation in some parts of the world.
It is an intense day of filming on the set of “Video Game High School,” a show with a worldwide audience. But the show will not appear on television. Every episode is on the Internet. Jimmy Wong is one of the actors in the show. “This is a feature length web series that has the production budget of something much larger scale and something on par quality wise with what you would see on television,” he said.
Wong’s brother, Freddie, is the show’s director. Jimmy Wong says fans donated more than $800,000 through the Internet in $5- to $15-dollar increments to make the second season of Freddie’s show a reality. “He has over 3 million subscribers on YouTube, so that’s definitely a huge fan base to pull from and a lot of those fans are age 13 to 17,” he noted. “On the younger side of things.”
The younger generation, people 35 and under, are now going to the Internet, especially to YouTube to get their entertainment, says Malik Ducard, director of content partnerships at YouTube Google. “That core demographic uses YouTube often as their first window or a window they’re watching while they’re watching television,” Ducard explained.
Jimmy Wong says more and more people are getting their entertainment from their smart phones and computers. “The newer generation doesn’t want to wait around. It’s just something programmed into us now that if you want to see something, figure out what it is. Google it or YouTube it,” Wong stated.
YouTube is trying to give the Internet generation more professional looking content with four production studios worldwide. The 40,000-square meter space in Los Angeles, filled with high-tech lighting and cameras, is the largest. Liam Collins heads YouTube Space LA. “We want more viewers tuning in, and we believe that higher quality, more ambitious content will serve that goal,” according to Collins.
Through a selection process, content creators can use the space for free. “Video Game High School” is not the only show filmed here. Originally from Russia, Olga Kay juggled in the circus until she discovered YouTube. Now, she’s a successful YouTuber who has moved out of filming in her home to shooting comedies at YouTube’s studio. “I think in the next five years we’re going to see a lot of merging,” she said. “A lot of Hollywood stars are transitioning to YouTube.”
Movie and television studios are also using the Internet and YouTube to promote their shows and even original web content. YouTube fans like Danelle Assanelli say unlike TV, they can comment on shows online and even give the creator input. “You can actually interact with these people. It’s more personal to us,” she added.
YouTube Google’s Malik Ducard says the Internet provides opportunities for established Hollywood studios as well as new players to reach a global audience and succeed.