YouTube stars Ryan Higa and The Young Turks have launched official mobile apps, becoming the first creators to launch with tech startup Victorious, the company co-founded by YouTube’s former head of creator development Bing Chen.
Comedian Higa’s TeeHee app is available for Android and for iOS, and will showcase his YouTube videos as well as exclusive footage, games, live chats and features for fans to share their own videos and photos.
News channel The Young Turks’ app is also available for Android and for iOS, and will offer behind-the-scenes clips, and encourage viewers to give their views on news stories and the content of its upcoming broadcasts.
Victorious is working with a host of other digital stars and a few multi-channel networks (MCNs) to launch apps in the coming weeks and months.
They include beauty guru Michelle Phan, filmmaker Freddie Wong, Vine star DeStorm Power, boy-band Boyce Avenue and comedian Lilly Singh. The MCNs include Machinima and AwesomenessTV.
Victorious had originally planned to launch its first apps in the autumn of 2014. “We’ve been developing the product really hand-in-hand with these digitally-born creators, and we spent some extra time working with them on features that will be exciting for their superfans,” CEO Sam Rogoway told the Guardian.
“The apps that we are powering aren’t just disposable playlists of content. They’re not just aggregators of content that’s already out there. Fans are not just consumers: they are creators in their own right, and they want to interact not just with the creators but with other fans.”
“We’re focused on being inclusive versus exclusive,” added Chen. “We’re providing a platform that enables superfans to feel this is a safe place for them to consume, but also to do so much more: a rich playground.”
As a platform, Victorious represents a way for its clients to build their own communities, rather than simply gathering fans on YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks and apps.
Chen said that in the case of The Young Turks, which broadcasts news programmes aimed at young people, the interactivity will also be a key feature. “Their fans are immensely passionate, but also so savvy and informed. They’re almost Young Turks themselves,” he said.
“A few platforms have tried their hand at citizen journalism, but The Young Turks are going head in. They’ll be asking those fans what videos they should do, and the follow-on conversation will be happening inside the app.”
The apps may also represent a new source of income for the creators that Victorious is working with, although Rogoway and Chen declined to say how the balance will fall between advertising and in-app payments or subscriptions by fans.
“Every creator is different: they need the flexibility to choose the type of monetisation that best suits them,” said Rogoway. “It’s our job to provide all those types of monetisation and reduce all of the friction.”
Victorious is also looking beyond the stars created on YouTube and other digital platforms. “Later this summer, we will be announcing a slate of different TV, film and music partnerships,” said Chen.
“But for now, we are really focused on these digitally-born stars. This whole industry has been called ‘new media’ for the last decade, but the reality is we are the new mainstream. These aren’t just ‘YouTubers’ or ‘Viners’. They’re stars in general.”
This article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Thursday 23rd April 2015 15.59 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010