Fox Sports wanted to seed its YouTube channel with a viral and innovative kind of sports content. After a nationwide search, it found two guys who fit the bill: a pair of German-Austrian brothers who set sports news to music.
The media company last week staged the Fox Sports Digital VideoFest, pitting a dozen YouTube creators who in three-day contest. The winning team will receive a six-month development deal with Fox Sports for an original series to appear on YouTube and FoxSports.com — coupled with promotional support worth $1 million, including a promo spot in this Sunday’s Super Bowl pregame show.
“We were looking for talent that can invent a new format for sports content,” said Pete Vlastelica, senior VP of Fox Sports Digital Media. “Rather than assume we had all the answers and knew how to approach producing content for the YouTube platform, we wanted to reach out to YouTube creators who already had proved to have success.”
Fox Sports worked with YouTube Space LA, the 41,000-sq.-ft. studio facility in the Playa Vista area. The 12 YouTube channel creators from across the U.S. filmed and edited video from Jan. 23-25 at the YouTube facility. Their final work — which included comedy sketches, a competition show and a profile of a college football star — was reviewed by a committee of Fox execs.
The winner: AVByte, a YouTube channel with offbeat original showtune-style musicals, which produced a one-minute “This Week in Sports” recap show set as a musical. (Watch their video below.) AVByte, which is repped by Fullscreen, has about 400,000 subscribers.
AVByte was launched in January 2012 by two brothers Vijay and Antonius Nazareth. The duo, who now live together on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, come with a classical musical pedigree — their father was an opera conductor and their mother was an opera singer. AVByte paired the musical proclivity of Antonius, 21, with the videomaking interests of Vijay, 24.
The brothers were intrigued by the Fox Sports contest and decided to give it a shot: “Not too often do you put sports and music together,” Antonius noted.
Vlastelica admitted that when he heard about AVByte’s concept of a musical version a sports show he was skeptical. “That content didn’t jump off the page,” he said. “But what they came back with was really original. It’s shareable. It understands YouTube audiences.”
The brothers grew up in different European countries — “on paper we’re German-Austrian,” Vijay said — and came the States four years ago. They acknowledged that they’re not huge American sports nerds. “We are trying to get familiar with (U.S.) sports,” Antonius said. “We grew up watching a lot of soccer… but I’ve become kind of a 49ers fan.”
What’s next: Fox Sports plans work with them for six months to coproduce a series. The project already has a major sponsor attached: Ford Fusion. The programmer said it will run advertising on TV and online to promote the web series.
As for how much funding Fox will give the Nazareth brothers, and what the specific form of the show will be, that’s still TBD: “Specific details are still being worked out,” a network rep said.
YouTube Space LA head Liam Collins said the format for Fox Sports contest was unusual, particularly for a traditional media company. “Fox was pretty intrepid in doing this. There aren’t a lot of templates for this kind of project — and there was a question in their mind about what they would get,” Collins said. “The beautiful thing about testing this concept is that the risk is relatively low.”
Down the road, Fox Sports expects to work with other YouTube creators who participated in the event, according to Vlastelica. The 11 other participants were: Aja Dang; Rachel Annamarie DeMita (formerly of Sports Buddyz); 5SecondFilms; Lana McKissack; Mikey Bolts; Greg and Lou; The Brothers Riedell; Second City; J.D. Witherspoon; Totally Sketch (Michael Gallagher) and ThePostGame.
Watch AVByte’s winning video entry in the Fox Sports Digital VideoFest, “This Week in Sports”: