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VidCon 2015 to Expand Industry Track, Taps Ex-Discovery Exec Jim Louderback (Exclusive)

Online-video confab set for July 23-25 also will introduce a new 'creator track'

VidCon, the annual confab that draw thousands of YouTube fans yearning to meet digital stars in person, will add more of a biz flavor next year.

Set to run July 23-25, VidCon 2015 will expand to take over the entire Anaheim Convention Center. New next year will be a “creator track,” with programs focused on helping producers, hosts and artists grow their audiences. In addition, VidCon has recruited Jim Louderback, former g.m. of Discovery Digital Networks, to broaden and refocus the industry track to better cater to YouTube multichannel networks, traditional media companies, video-tech firms, advertisers and agencies.

“We’re redoubling our commitment to help creators make better videos and grow their audiences, while at the same time continuing to provide a safe space for fans to come together with their community and the creators they love,” said Hank Green, co-founder of VidCon and host of YouTube shows SciShow, VlogBrothers and Crash Course.

Green started VidCon in 2010 with his brother, John Green, a vlogger and author of “The Fault in Our Stars” and other novels.

The two-day VidCon industry track (July 23-24) will include 13 keynotes and one-on-one interviews with online-video industry execs, along with about 15 panel discussion sessions on business topics, according to Louderback. The sessions will be on the third floor of the Anaheim Convention Center, an “oasis of calm” above the din of the general fan area, he said.

One of the issues for bizzers at VidCon has been that, while there have been industry-focused panels in past years, those have included big YouTubers — drawing crowds of adoring fans in addition to business execs, said Louderback. “It’s really hard to come up with a coherent set of content that appeals to both groups,” he said. Louderback left Discovery in September, two years after the media company acquired online-video firm Revision3, where he had been CEO since 2007.

Themes for VidCon 2015’s industry track will include the rise of vertical MCNs; moving beyond YouTube; traditional media companies shifting to online video; and advertising and marketing. The track also will highlight technology vendors — the “pickaxes and shovels” of online video, Louderback said, with a series of hands-on product demos on the third-floor main stage.

Still, VidCon’s biggest draw will continue to be digital stars: more than 250 top YouTube creators from across the globe will be on hand to meet, greet and entertain the 20,000-plus expected attendees. Next year’s event will add three new stages featuring YouTube stars across multiple genres, including beauty, gaming, vlogging and education. VidCon also is adding a new reservations system for signings — similar to Disney parks’ Fastpass system — designed to ensure attendees have a better chance of meeting their favorite creators.

Tickets to VidCon, which go on sale Wednesday, start at $100 for the general-admission “community” track. The new creator ticket starts at $150, while the all-access industry ticket starts at $450.

“What makes VidCon so great is that you have thousands of fans of YouTube there,” Louderback said. “There’s nothing that brings home the way online video is shaping the industry like seeing and listening to the fans.”

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