The 4th annual VidCon kicked off on Thursday in Anaheim, California, and speakers couldn’t have been more bullish about the future of online video. “That’s where the audience is,” according to NBC Executive VP of Entertainment, Rob Hayes. “”We want to find the next wave of entertainment content creators and figure out how to mobilize them.”
Created by online video pioneers Hank and John Green, VidCon is an annual three-day conference promoting, celebrating, and furthering the online entertainment industry, and attended by creators, communities, professionals, and fans.
Hayes was a Thursday morning opening panel member who agreed that Hollywood has no choice but to invest in online video content creation aimed at platforms like YouTube and Vine. His comments came in conjunction with his announcement that NBC would be launching a contest in which established YouTube stars and as-yet undiscovered talent would be sought out for a six-episode NBC series.
In a chat with Hank Green, former Disney Studio chief and now DreamWorks Animation CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg said, “I am 100% convinced that those who are in it today are those who are going to understand it the best tomorrow,” he said. “It’s not going to be the people who come late to the game.”
Dreamworks’ acquired YouTube multichannel network AwesomenessTV last year in a $117 million deal. With programming aimed at teens, the network boasts 50 million subscribers and 1 billion monthly views.
Among other announcements, Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos said his company would invest $10 million in original programming for YouTube creators. “For us, it’s about harnessing creativity,” said Strompolos. Fullscreen is a YouTube multichannel network that manages more than 15,000 channels and generates over 2.5 billion monthly views.
Other talks will focus on the Hollywood/YouTube union, highlighting the concern of YouTube maintaining its unpredictable personality while it moves into the realm of corporate mainstream media. It’s evidence of the platform’s evolution from one in which creators hoped for a one-off video to go viral and propel them to stardom, to one in which markets are integrated and long-term strategies employed.
Thursday’s VidCon attendance numbered around 20,000, most of who were fans seeking to interact with online media stars. The three-day event ends on Saturday.