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The line between social media star and celebrity is becoming increasingly unrecognizable, and nowhere is this more evident than on YouTube. The platform’s popularity is now attracting the attention of the world’s biggest movie stars and professional athletes, many of whom are partnering with multi channel networks (also called YouTube MCNs) to help these traditional celebs launch their YouTube careers and/or produce digital video content designed to connect with younger audiences.
For years, top social media influencers (also called “content creators”) have been the driving force behind YouTube’s growth. According to YouTube, content creators have produced more than 10K videos in YouTube Spaces (i.e. YouTube’s dedicated production studios) alone, generating more than 70M hours of watch time and over 1B video views.
As the platform evolves and expands, traditional celebrities such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and soccer superstar Hope Solo have begun working with MCNs to reach YouTube’s large audience and, in the process, illustrate how quickly YouTube is changing the way people consume content.
To leverage the growing popularity of the Unites States Women’s National [Soccer] Team and capitalize on 2016 Olympic audiences, YouTube MCN Fullscreen partnered with three of the U.S. team’s most well-known stars—Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Crystal Dunn—to produce a “docu-series” titled “Keeping Score.”
The series was available exclusively through Fullscreen’s new streaming service (which launched in April 2016 and costs $4.99 per month) and sought to replicate the success of similar made-for-television programs like HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” which chronicles the ups and downs of an NFL team (Inc.).
The partnership between the Women’s Nation Team players and Fullscreen marks a notable expansion of the YouTube MCN’s growing catalog of original programming (which already included content created by YouTubers like Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart, among others). “Keeping Score” also captured Solo’s painful termination from the team, resulting in a viral moment for the MCN and vaulting the athlete into the social media spotlight (Tubefilter).
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson recently topped Forbes’ list of the highest-paid actors, an announcement that makes the launch of the celebrity’s new YouTube channel all the more compelling. Developed as a collaboration between Johnson’s own Seven Bucks Digital Studios and YouTube MCN Studio 71, the wrestler-turned-actor’s YouTube content will “feature Johnson’s own videos, monthly collaborations, and an action-filled scripted online series. (Tubefilter)”
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Like many traditional celebrities, Johnson already has a substantial social following—roughly 100 million followers across all platforms, according to a recent article. Johnson’s decision to begin creating standalone digital content for YouTube, however, is an indication of where the entertainment industry is headed and illustrates YouTube’s ability to reach massive new audiences.