×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Vidcon 2018: Viacom Makes Its Mark, Organizers Focus on Diversity

Vidcon CEO Jim Louderback promises that this year’s annual online video confab won’t become a corporate branding exercise for Viacom after it acquired the conference last February.

“We were both really clear during the sale that they didn’t want to change us and we didn’t want to be changed,” Louderback said in a phone interview. “Because if you do that, you’re going ruin it.”

Expected to draw 35,000 people, the event is in its ninth iteration and will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center June 20-23. It has evolved into a massive multi-day event featuring panel sessions for industry leaders and content creators, digital stars, fans, numerous parties and even a concert by Marshmello, the American DJ and electronic music producer. That’s a far cry from the conference’s more meager beginnings in a ballroom at a Century City hotel with just 1,400 attendees.

The conference has to be seen as neutral ground for all of the platforms and media companies that attend, according to Louderback, including Fox, NBC, Scripps, YouTube and others.

The only additional Viacom influence you’ll see at Vidcon this year, Louderback, said are sponsored both from networks like MTV, which will be doing a “Cribs” activation. Nickelodeon, like in years past, is also sponsoring a booth, and so has Paramount Network.

Vidcon has grown into the must-attend event for young fans of a wide array of influencers and video personalities who receive are received like rock stars. Because Vidcon skews young and female, it gives it the feel of a Justin Bieber concert, as young fans gush and shriek over their favorite digital celebs.

Brent Weinstein, the newly-named chief innovation officer at UTA, which represents Vidcon, called the conference “the world’s most impactful event celebrating online video, bringing together the biggest creators, industry and thought leaders, large brand marketers.”

The unique environment, Weinstein said, is “built to highlight and bring to life the special relationship between online video stars and their fans.”

This year, the event will feature bolstered security, like RFID-embedded wristbands to scan people in and out of the event. Notable this year is the emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Vidcon organizers invited a number women and people of colors to lead panel sessions. Half of the featured creators this year are women and 40% are multicultural.

Vidcon programming will be divided among three different so-called tracks: one for industry leaders interested in networking and discussing business deals, one for content creators interested in learning the tools of the online video trade, and one for community, meaning the fan events.

Among the notable events is a will feature a keynote conversation with Skybound Entertainment CEO and “The Walking Dead” executive producer, David Alpert. MACRO founder and CEO Charles D. King will also talk about his decision to leave WME, where he was the first African-American to make partner, to start his own multi-platform, multicultural media company.

Abby Woods, co-founder of Quartermain Media, a black-owned production company, will for the first time bring to Vidcon up-and-coming black digital talent. Woods will also lead a panel in the industry track called, “Coloring Outside of the Lines: Debunking Myths and Providing Best Practices for Influencers of Color Working with Brands and Advertisers.

“It’s this ultimate opportunity to authentically share your culture, share your struggle and share your passion for video,” Woods said in an interview.

Online video’s low barrier to entry means it has an advantage over film and television to better showcase diversity, Woods said. “People are realizing that you don’t have to have a certain look,” Woods said. “You just have to have your own message and it just needs to come across as authentic and relatable. And how hard is it to be you?”

Jennifer Perri, vice president of Univision Creator Network (UCN), said she’s heartened to see the focus on diversity at Vidcon this year.

“When we’re talking about inclusion, we’re not doing it just for the sake (of diversity),” Perri said. “They know this is who the audience is watching. These are important figures and we need to include them in the conversation.”

Perri, a Vidcon veteran, said UCN has been steadily growing the number of digital influencers they have signed from a few dozen to nearly 200. Latino influencers, she said, have been able to provide content to a largely underserved audience of Latino millennials. “This is the new face of America,” she said.

More Digital

  • Nancy Pelosi

    Facebook on Defensive Over Fake Pelosi Video

    Facebook faced growing criticism this week over its decision not to remove a video that was doctored to suggest that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was intoxicated during a recent public event. The video, which has been viewed more than 2.5 million times, had been slowed down notably, giving the impression that Pelosi was slurring her [...]

  • Little-Black-Mirror-Maia-Mitchell

    Netflix Launching 'Little Black Mirror' Video Series Starring Maia Mitchell, Lele Pons, Rudy Mancuso, Juanpa Zurita and More

    To promote next month’s premiere of “Black Mirror” season 5, Netflix is launching a short video series — “Little Black Mirror,” with a cast that includes an ensemble of Latinx social-media stars. The three “mini-stories,” aimed at Spanish-speaking audiences, are inspired by the tech-dystopian universe of Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones’ anthology series. “Little Black [...]

  • Twitter

    Twitter Permanently Bans Anti-Trump Krassenstein Brothers, Who Deny They Broke Platform's Rules

    Twitter permanently suspended the accounts of Ed and Brian Krassenstein — progressive political activists famous for trolling Donald Trump and his supporters — with the company alleging the brothers used bogus accounts to amplify their reach on the platform. “The Twitter Rules apply to everyone,” a Twitter rep said in a statement. “Operating multiple fake [...]

  • Snapchat

    Snap in Talks to License Music to Let Snapchat Users Embed Songs in Posts

    Snap wants to up Snapchat’s music game. The company has been in negotiations with music companies including the big three — Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group — to license song catalogs for the Snapchat app, according to two industry sources familiar with the talks, confirming a Wall Street Journal report. [...]

  • T-mobile - Netflix - John Legere

    T-Mobile Passes Netflix Price Hike Through to Subscribers

    T-Mobile is getting ready to raise prices for subscribers who have taken advantage of its “Netflix On Us” promotion: The mobile carrier will begin charging existing customers who have participated in the promotion an additional $2 per month to account for Netflix’s recent price increase. Consumers will see their bill go up starting on 6/2. [...]

  • Oona King

    Snap Hires Google Exec Oona King as First VP of Diversity and Inclusion

    Snap continues to fill out the ranks of its revamped leadership team: The Snapchat parent tapped Oona King, most recently Google’s director of diversity strategy and a former member of British Parliament with the Labour Party, as its first VP of diversity and inclusion. King, who starts at Snap on June 11, is also the [...]

  • Chrissy Teigen

    Chrissy Teigen to Rule Over Small-Claims 'Chrissy's Court' in Show for Jeffrey Katzenberg's Quibi

    Chrissy Teigen is going full-on “Judge Judy” in a reality show ordered by Quibi, the mobile-video subscription start-up venture founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg. In each episode of “Chrissy’s Court,” the model-influencer will reign as the “judge” over one small-claims case. Like the reality TV shows it’s patterned after, the plaintiffs, defendants, and disputes are real [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content