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Recently, we wrote an article about how many mainstream/traditional entertainment brands are marketing to large online audiences by leveraging the reach of top YouTuber channels (e.g. Hunger Games with beauty guru Kandee Johnson, Selena Gomez on Lilly Singh’s channel). With vast numbers of consumers turning to these social media influencers for advice on what’s cool, movie studios are smartly teaming up with YouTube stars to spur interest in forthcoming blockbusters. YouTube’s viewership is as large–and in certain demographics, larger–than traditional TV viewership. Collaborating with online creators to produce custom content is an effective way for these studios to generate buzz with a receptive audience of consumers.
More and more, we have seen that the opposite trend has also gained steam: now, many digital influencers are starring in mainstream entertainment media. As these social media stars oftentimes have farther-reaching engagement and better affinity than most “traditional” celebrities with today’s audiences, the two media spheres have begun to merge. More viewers have come to expect the type free-reign, often quirky creativity that takes place online. In response, mainstream entertainment is developing more original, creator-driven and featured programming.
The times are changing: Social media stars have started crossing over into mainstream TV and film–and bringing their dollars with them. Here are a few notable examples of influencers making big-budget entertainment deals:
CBS reality show The Amazing Race is slated to feature a YouTube, Vine, and Instagram star-studded cast in its 28th season. According to a recent post by WSJ, the cast will be comprised of: YouTubers Tyler Oakley, Korey Kuhl, Burnie Burns, Ashley Jenkins, Eric White Robinson, Joslyn Davis, Dana Borriello, Matt Steffanina, Marty Cobb, Hagan Parkman, Blair Fowler, Scott Fowler, Brodie Smith, Kurt Gibson; Viners Cole LaBrant, Sheri LaBrant, Zach King, Rachel King, Darius Benson, Cameron Benson; and Instagrammers Jessica Versteeg and Brittany Oldehoff. Many of the influencers featured are related–as family members, or as frequent social media collaborators.
The long-running TV franchise debuted in 2000 and, as the original fans of the show have grown up, so has Big Brother‘s average audience member. In an interview with Mashable, host Paul Keoghan said that the revolutionary new casting would make the upcoming season “even more entertaining.” Indeed, this can be seen as an attempt by CBS to breathe new life into Big Brother‘s demographics and to inspire younger generations of TV-watchers to get into the show.
Boasting 2.8 million subscribers, the YouTube sensation debuted her own talk show on the E! network earlier this year. When interviewed by the Los Angeles Times, E!’s VP of programming and development explained, “In a world on TV that is increasingly looking the same, you have to do bold experiments.” After two of its core programs, Fashion Police and Chelsea Lately, abruptly ended, the E! network is attempting to revive its schedule by introducing a fresh face to its lineup.
The show is appropriately called The Grace Helbig Show and, like her YouTube videos, is set in the living room of her Los Angeles apartment. Something of a spin-off from her YouTube content, The Grace Helbig Show plays off of the persona that Helbig developed online. It’s the first example that we have really seen of an established online personality given the opportunity to develop that in front of larger network audiences.
Viner Logan Paul has one of the largest social media followings across multiple channels and platforms. Peyton List has already found fame through the Disney Channel. It’s no surprise, then, that major studio Legendary has cast him in a feature-length film feature-length film alongside the Disney star following the success of his Vines. Logan Paul has been a part of several brand sponsored campaigns most recently Dunkin’ Donuts and Aeropostale.