AwesomenessTV announced a string of new partnerships and initiatives at its first Digital Content NewFronts presentation, including a scripted series for Major League Baseball, a deal with social messaging service Kik and plans for a live, kid-focused video-game awards show from DreamWorksTV this fall.
The youth-skewing media company also announced the launch of an Apple TV app; new scripted psychological-thriller series “t@gged” with digital stars Jc Caylen and Lia Marie Johnson for Verizon’s Go90; and new talent deals for Awestruck, its network for millennial moms.
AwesomenessTV now produces more than 800 hours of original programming per year, “which is probably more than most cable networks,” said CEO and co-founder Brian Robbins, and is distributed across 31 digital platforms. After starting as a YouTube channel four years ago, “we are now a global media company” with annual revenue approaching $1 billion, he said.
The company — owned by DreamWorks Animation, with minority shareholders Hearst and recent investor Verizon — is now making its content available on Apple TV, and debuted Tuesday on popular chat app Kik, which Robbins said is used by 40% of U.S. teens. On Kik, the AwesomenessTV bot combines native video and chat to let fans receive content, and soon will include character bots for AwesomenessTV’s scripted series and films to deliver companion narratives, behind-the-scenes features and alternate endings driven by audience participation.
AwesomenessTV also announced that “Royal Crush,” the teen drama set aboard a cruise ship that’s sponsored by Royal Caribbean International, will return for two more seasons. “Guidance,” a high-school drama that is one of Go90’s top series, will be coming back for a second season with new cast members. With MLB, AwesomenessTV is creating a multi-episode original scripted series that showcases the game and top ballplayers “through the voice of Gen Z,” designed to help the league’s attempts to reach younger fans.
In October, DreamWorksTV, the kid-focused multichannel network that AwesomenessTV launched in 2014, will stage the Kids’ Game Awards, an interactive, all-digital show that will let viewers vote on their favorite video games (in the vein of Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards). The Kids’ Game Awards show will feature special appearances by celebrities, gamers, digital influencers and musical guests. For the Kids’ Game Awards, led by producer Geoff Keighley, AwesomenessTV has also lined up an advisory board that includes Activision, Nintendo and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
For Awestruck, the company announced new deals with GloZell Green, Molly Sims, Leah Ashley, Nikki Baker and Tammin Sursok. They join the network’s roster of personalities, which include Zoe Saldana, Kandee Johnson, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Jennifer “JWOWW” Farley and LaToya Forever.
New series “t@gged,” to debut on Go90 this summer, follows three teenage girls who try to figure out who “tagged” their social media profiles to a horrific murder online before the killer finds them. The 11-part series ensemble cast includes Lia Marie Johnson (“Expelled”), Lulu Antariksa (“What Still Remains”), Katelyn Nacon (“The Walking Dead”), Jc Caylen (“Boo! A Madea Halloween”), Tristin Mays (“The Vampire Diaries”), Timothy Granaderos (“We Are Your Friends”), Brendan Meyer (“Fear The Walking Dead,” “Mr. Young”), Nick Fink (“Sweet/Viscious”), Lukas Gage (“Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse”), Kurt Caceres (“All My Children”) and Claudia Sulewski (“Teen Vogue YouTube Host”). It was created and directed by filmmaker Hannah MacPherson, exec produced by Brian Robbins, Shauna Phelan, and MacPherson, and produced by Jina Jones.
In addition, AwesomesnessTV detailed a new program in partnership with video data and tech firm Zefr called “Signal,” which maps 10,000 content types to better distribute branded content across multiple platforms. The company also has a deal with Brightline to create and serve interactive branded experiences.
At the NewFronts event, held at Spring Studios in Tribeca, AwesomenessTV brought out several of its talent partners to address the crowd of about 300 advertising and media execs.
Those included “t@gged” co-stars JC Caylen and Lia Marie Johnson; “Betch” stars Maddy Whitby and Monica Sherer; Awesomeness Films star Kian Lawley, who will appear in the upcoming movie “Before I Fall” with Zoey Deutch; Sunny Keller, the 13-year-old host of DreamWorksTV’s “Life Hacks for Kids”; Awestruck’s Kandee Johnson; and digital celebrity Tyler Oakley, subject of Awesomeness Films documentary release “Snervous” and contestant on this season’s “The Amazing Race” on CBS.
Pictured above (l. to r.): Kandee Johnson, Tyler Oakley, Jc Caylen, Kian Lawley, Maddy Whitby, Monica Sherer and Lia Marie Johnson