YouTube is being challenged by multiple different players — including Facebook — which all want a piece of the Internet video giant’s action. But many creators and media companies still view YouTube, the sector’s 800-pound gorilla, as the best home for their firstrun content.
FremantleMedia North America’s original digital content studio, Tiny Riot!, has reached a deal with the Google-owned video site to set up shop in the YouTube Space LA studios to shoot new episodes of remakes of classic game shows in its catalog for the Buzzr channel on YouTube, featuring talent recruited from YouTube’s massive base of creators.
The ad-supported Buzzr YouTube channel quietly launched in pilot mode last fall with a “Family Feud” reboot, followed by “Password” earlier this month. The first shoot at YouTube Space LA, for the new round of “Family Feud” episodes, will take place Wednesday.
“What we found through the research was, these shows have a great resonance with younger audiences,” said Thom Beers, CEO of FremantleMedia North America. “The advantage for us is, we don’t have to license anything.”
FremantleMedia owns the rights to 154 game show formats, and it’s eager to bring as many of them as possible to the YouTube generation. That catalog includes “What’s My Line,” “To Tell the Truth,” “Card Sharks,” “Let’s Make a Deal,” “Celebrity Name Game,” along with “Family Feud” and “Password.”
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The YouTube initiative is meant to dovetail with Buzzr TV, a digital multicast channel stocked with reruns from the game show archive, which FMNA expects to launch May 31. Last month it announced a distribution pact for Fox’s 17 owned-and-operated stations, and the company is in talks with other station groups. The hope is to launch in 50 million homes, Beers said.
Buzzr TV and Buzzr on YouTube are aimed at two different demographics, with the former playing to older auds’ nostalgia and the latter refreshed for millennials. For younger viewers, Beers noted, “These old-format game shows are really, really hard to watch.”
The YouTube channel will include a new version of “Celebrity Name Game” and charade game “Body Language” later in the year, said Gayle Gilman, executive VP of digital content for FMNA and g.m. of Tiny Riot!
“When we were looking at formats that would be fun to do with YouTube stars, we were like kids in a candy store,” she said.
Tiny Riot! oversees the company’s digital productions and properties — such as the Pet Collective animal videos channel, launched in 2012 as part of YouTube’s original channels initiative — as well as its joint ventures and partnerships such as the Munchies online food channel with Vice Media. FMNA also has content deals with multichannel networks StyleHaul and BroadbandTV (both of which are controlled by RTL Group, FremantleMedia’s parent company).
All told, on YouTube in 2014, FremantleMedia content was viewed about 9 billion times. About half of that was of content uploaded by users, without the company’s permission; FremantleMedia used YouTube’s Content ID system to generate ad revenue from that.
“There are thousands of old clips on YouTube from these game shows from superfans,” Gilman said. “So we knew this content performed really well.”
Watch the most recent episode of Buzzr’s “Password” on YouTube: