Digital-native media platform FaZe Clan is breaking into traditional TV formats with a three-year plan for both unscripted and scripted content, including a “Saturday Night Live”-style series for the Gen Z audience that will launch on livestream service Twitch in June, Variety has learned exclusively.
Titled “unFaZed,” FaZe Clan describes the weekly show as “the first-ever variety franchise born out of internet culture,” that will feature a recurring ensemble cast of internet celebrities and be hosted by rotating special guests from that same world, while also regularly bringing in celebrities from the TV, film, music and sports industries.
“unFaZed” is one of two inaugural formatted series set at the esports and online entertainment giant, a media platform that is rooted in gaming and youth culture and boasts a combined social following of over 500 million. The second show is the previously announced “Big Brother”-esque “FaZe1: The Warehouse,” a competition series that will livestream 24 hours a day for 15 days straight, which will debut on FaZe Clan’s Twitch channel May 5.
Both series will be filmed at FaZe Clan’s brand new state-of-the-art content studio in the company’s new warehouse in the heart of Hollywood, California, which FaZe calls “the ultimate playground for internet kids.”
“Those are two tentpoles for us and we plan on doing multiple seasons,” Bill McCullough, FaZe Clan’s executive vice president and head of content, told Variety. “But aside from that, we have an upcoming original slate of programming. Some of it is going to be on our YouTube channel, some of it we’re going to take off platform and try and sell to other distributors in an effort to kind of grow our audience and broaden the platforms and the reach that we have and maybe expose a new audience to FaZe Clan. And that’s happening both in the unscripted and scripted world.”
McCullough, an 11-time Emmy winner formerly at the NFL, HBO and GoPro added: “And what the next three years will look like from a content standpoint at FaZe Clan is, you can expect to see this year we’re doubling down on getting these two tentpole shows up and going. And then you’ll see next year, some more off-platform stuff will start to happen in the unscripted world. And then we’re hoping in 2024, that more of the scripted stuff will come together in a way that we’re ready to unveil that. That’s a high-level look at what the next three years at FaZe Clan are.”
Launching on Twitch June 2, “unFaZed” will livestream every Thursday at 3 p.m. PST for three to four hours and feature a collection of rotating and interchangeable segments, all airing live, some scripted and many unscripted, per FaZe Clan. Showrun by Scott Tomlinson (“Tosh.0,” “The Andy Dick Show”) and anchored by a special guest host and recurring ensemble cast, the show will star some of the most culturally relevant, well-known creators from the internet community (FaZe members, streamers, YouTubers, social media stars). Each week, the rotating group of internet celebrities will be joined by major players from the world of traditional entertainment, including top-tier actors, musicians, athletes and more. FaZe Clan is already in talks with talent to lock in the ensemble cast and the first round of guests.
“What ‘SNL’ is to comedy, ‘unFaZed’ is to internet kids. That is aspirationally what we want to be,” FaZe Clan’s vice president of development Nic Gibbs said. “This is true in a format sense, but it’s more true culturally. ‘SNL’ is a place for the best comedians in the world to coalesce, to come together to play. They come to do things that they probably haven’t done before. But it’s also an incubator and a farm system. Think about all of the great writers that have gone on to become talk-show hosts who never even were on air. So we want to create a similar space that’s true to what FaZe Clan is.”
Gibbs says “unFaZed” will find a way to make the Twitch viewers that are using the chat function during the livestream part of the show via the a currently untitled and uncast character that will serve as a “chat mod.”
“We came up with the idea of casting someone who’s going to be the living, breathing representation of chat,” Gibbs said. “Basically, we’re going to cast someone who has some comedic chops who is going to be the voice of chat. So if we do have a segment that is bombing, [the chat mod] will just say, ‘Hey guys, chat fucking hates this, move on.’ So she’ll drive the show. And someone can say, ‘Bring up a poll: Which one of these three dishes should I eat in my food challenge?’ It’s a cool aspect that screams Twitch, but she will have a producer in her ear who is actually going to be the one monitoring the chat.”
Gibbs added: “The chat is going to be a massive part of the show, consistently, and that’s what makes it special. So imagine you’re doing ‘SNL’ and you can literally see your ratings in real time. You’re watching people dip because the segment you just did bombed. And you have everybody screaming, for all the world to see, they’re all giving it Ls. If you had that ability, then you can actually on-the-fly produce the show and get out of it. You can say, the chat hates this, let’s get out of it and go do something else.”
Prior to the June 2 premiere of “unFaZed,” FaZe Clan will launch “FaZe1: The Warehouse,” the first-ever live reality competition series that will stream 24 hours a day for 15 consecutive days starting May 5.
Showrun by Peter Tartaglia (“Big Brother,” “Real Housewives”], “FaZe1: The Warehouse “will give fans an uncensored, unedited and radically transparent look into the lives of the top 20 contestants competing in FaZe Clan’s global recruitment challenge “FaZe1, Powered by MoonPay.” After 15 days, the stream will go dark and a few days later on May 22, the entire challenge will culminate in a live finale event where FaZe Clan will name their ultimate recruit. That person will have the opportunity to become a member of FaZe Clan with a signing bonus of $1 million in cryptocurrency from MoonPay, as well as a $250,000 sponsorship brand deal and a Nissan GT-R.
The new FaZe Clan TV shows are both executive produced by McCullough and Gibbs, as well as Spencer Sherman, FaZe Clan’s vice president of live programming and events. “unFaZed” is produced in partnership with Kids at Play and with Jason Berger and Amy Laslett serving as executive producers, while Mission Control Media produces “FaZe1: The Warehouse” along with Michael Agbabian and Dwight D. Smith as executive producers.
“unFaZed” and “FaZe1: The Warehouse” come on the heels of the FaZe Clan’s weekly livestream series “Road to FaZe1” hosted by FaZe Apex, FaZe CBass and FaZe Faxuty, which has served as the main point of communication with fans throughout the “FaZe1, Powered by MoonPay” competition. Since its start date in January, “Road to FaZe1” has already garnered over 74.3 million impressions across social media platforms and Twitch/YouTube, per FaZe Clan.
“The launch of these two series marks a new milestone for FaZe Clan. We’ve always been a content-first organization and are excited to raise the bar with this new slate and first-of-its-kind programming created specifically for Gen Z,” Lee Trink, CEO and co-founder of FaZe Clan, said. “FaZe Clan has long pioneered gaming content and actually created the first content house -— so we are proud to lead the charge once again from our new studio in the FaZe Warehouse. This is just another new beginning and we are excited for the fans to see what’s ahead.”
Last fall, Trink and fellow FaZe Clan execs announced plans to take the company public through a merger with B. Riley Principal 150 Merger Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). While the deal has not been finalized yet, FaZe Clan’s execs are looking ahead to how to stand out as a private — and hopefully soon public — creator of TV content targeted at a Gen Z audience.
“I think the failures that we’ve seen are when people try and put traditional media or traditional entertainment in front of these kids and they’re just like, ‘No, thank you. I don’t want that,'” McCullough said. “The more it looks like television, the more it looks like marketing, the less they want to be part of it. And we’re also dealing with a generation that has grown up with the internet and that is a massive difference. They’ve grown up with video chat. They’ve grown up with Premiere and they know how to edit. They know After Effects. All of these things that back in the day were a mystery, when TV was the box that talks and makes pictures. And now this audience is responsible for creating it. It’s a point in history where these kids don’t need an NBC or an HBO or an MTV. They can just go out and create content and reach an audience themselves, which is remarkable, it’s unbelievable. So when you put all those ingredients together, how you succeed in an entertainment manner with this audience is not so cut and dry.”
Moving forward in their three-year TV programming strategy for FaZe Clan, McCullough and Gibbs plan on creating content that could live not just on Twitch, but also subscription streaming services and even linear channels.
“The concepts are based around our talent, so some [platforming decisions are based] on where that talent’s audience lives,” McCullough said. “We’re looking at everything from streamers to traditional media, some of the cable channels. It depends on what the actual concept is. We’re doing a lot of things with the NFL, as well. And as we kind of build that out, and add other leagues and other teams, the idea is for us to show up everywhere. We want to be ubiquitous, ‘Hey, there’s FaZe Clan again!’ The ability to do that and not only reach our core audience, we know where they live, but the idea is to start to broaden that out. You look at David Dobrik on Discovery Plus, you look at ‘Hype House’ on Netflix, this is kind of the evolution of where content is born from and where it’s going to reach that other audience. I think that we’ll be at the forefront of that movement.”
That also means looking to develop FaZe Clan IP that has the legs to be turned into top-selling consumer products, garner pricey live rights, and bring in deep-pocketed sponsors.
“We live in a new world where creators can monetize content on their own. That has had a ripple effect of changes in our industry,” McCullough said. “What hasn’t changed, no matter the demo, is the value of entertainment franchises. For us, it’s all about standing up new IP that sticks with this new generation of consumer and do so in a way that has tentacles into all areas of our business. We want to monetize across every available avenue – merch, sponsors, licensing, live rights and we’re starting to explore what the opportunities are in Web3. Long term, we want to build up a portfolio of IP that we can move and our audience moves with it.”
See FaZe Clan’s teaser for “unFaZed” below.
Our new original series streaming live on June 2nd pic.twitter.com/uO28W4SGAn
— FaZe Clan (@FaZeClan) April 6, 2022