In this blog post I will be analysing and discussing some YouTube shows that could be used as influences or inspiration for our magazine programme.
Nowadays a lot of young people are watching more YouTube videos than they are TV shows, so I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some YouTube shows and try to analyse what makes them successful and how they appeal to their audiences. I will also try and look at channels that contain content similar to what we want to achieve on our show following the theme of nerd culture.
YouTube was originally designed for prosumers to upload and share videos easily, however there are now pretty large-scale productions that use YouTube as their main sharing platform. This could be for a multitude of reasons, such as no restrictions set by a producer, full creative control, a worldwide audience and more. However, YouTube format shows are in a lot of ways very different to television format shows due to the restrictions of the platform, lack of budget or the need for videos to be ‘bitesize’ (the most successful videos on YouTube are very rarely longer than 15 minutes).
Good Mythical Morning
The first YouTube show I’m going to be looking at is Good Mythical Morning. This is a daily video-podcast type show hosted by Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal. The two presenters are, arguably, what makes the show work. They are likeable, work well together and clearly know how to present themselves well in front of a camera. The show is a self-described “daily morning talk show” where the presenters react to something topical, usually in the form of challenges, taste tests, silly games and funny reviews. This can be seen as quite typical YouTube content, however the way the show presents itself is quite atypical as it has quite a high production value and is self-conscious of the fact (where most YouTubers are teenagers filming in their bedrooms). Even just the presence of the microphone in shot is unusual for a lot of these videos where the YouTuber attempts to establish a connection to their audience by pretending they are just chatting in their room to friends, as opposed to presenting a show to an audience. While these style choices are different they clearly still work at connecting to an audience as the main channel has over 12 million subscribers.
The show has a clear format that it follows every episode and only slightly changes depending on what it is that they’re doing in the episode. A rough outline of this is: introduction “let’s talk about that”; title sequence;”good mythical morning!” describe what they’re going to be doing that episode with natural dialogue pertaining to themselves; start whatever it is they’re doing with natural reactions as they go along; what they’re doing is then made more difficult or taken to another level; “thank you for liking commenting and subscribing” “you know what time it is” a short video sent in by a fan saying who they are, where they’re from and “it’s time to spin the wheel of mythicality”; one pulls the wheel into shot and spins it as the other person plugs their behind the scenes channel, the other then plugs the ‘after-show’ Good Mythical More; they read off the card which the mythical wheel lands on (sometimes this is a short acting challenge they have to do or similar, other times it may be a donation to a charity and other randomly selected things); “thank you for being your mythical best”. The show does a good job of creating a brand for itself, with a recognisable logo present in the opening title sequence, in the bottom right hand corner as a subscribe button/watermark and on the mugs that they drink from (also plugging their merchandise). They also have recognisable phrases scattered throughout that tells a fan that they are watching Good Mythical Morning. As it is a morning show, the content isn’t very heavy and the description for the videos explains it as “casual comedy”. The content is non-consequential and meant for light entertainment, not hard-hitting journalism.
The Nerdist Podcast is a weekly audio interview show hosted by Chris Hardwick and is “about what it really means to be a nerd”. The podcast started in 2010 and two years later Nerdist Industries was founded, a digital division of Legendary Entertainment which creates a network of podcasts, a televised version of the original podcast and a premium content YouTube channel. The channel hosts series Nerdist News, Because Science and The Dan Cave, along with other videos such as sketches, trailer breakdowns and comic con coverage. Seeing as my group has chosen our TV magazine show to be about nerd culture, this is a great channel to look at.
Each of the series or shows has a different host, set and style to it; possibly to appeal to a wider audience and keep the content varied. The majority of the content is very topical, often responding to nerdy current affairs so the episodes have to have a quick turn-around time otherwise other places would have covered the information first and they would not have ‘exclusive’ content. Episodes even sometimes react to things that have happened the day before, which likely means that some video ideas are scrapped and swapped out depending on what happens in the world around them. The channel covers a range of nerdy items, from Hollywood blockbuster franchises to popular Japanese anime, and so people might subscribe to the channel by being a fan of any number of things. By doing this the channel has a ready market; that ready market being people who are fans of things (I couldn’t come up with a better way to describe it). So Game of Thrones fans might subscribe because of a trailer breakdown or Marvel fans might subscribe because of the science behind their favourite superheroes. The channel also posts one-off videos that often parody something popular in nerd culture which are more likely to be rapidly shared around social media, offering what is basically free advertising to the Nerdist channel.
I also looked at other YouTube channels that focus on nerdy content, one of which is Emergency Awesome. Unlike the other shows I have discussed, the channel is run by one person, Charlie Schnieder. The videos he makes can be seen as more ‘typical’ for YouTube as they have low production values and the format is quite simply one guy talking to a camera (with inserted clips and images from the show/movie/comic he’s talking about). He mainly does trailer/teaser breakdowns, looking into any possibly missed detail and going into detail about the lore of the world he is discussing. What really makes the channel stand out is a combination of how quickly he makes videos after something is released and how much detail he goes into about them. He clearly does a lot of research into these things, not only reading and watching original materials very closely but also behind the scenes, compendiums and forums where you can read fan theories.
WatchMojo.com is a channel that is almost exclusively dedicated to top 10 lists of pretty much anything you can think of (seriously, anything). The channel has strong banding, present in their thumbnails, in-video graphics and both opening and ending title cards. The range of every possible topic certainly attracts a wide audience and with the average video run-time being 10 minutes, they are quick to watch and easy to share. This shows me that something as simple as lists can drive in a large audience, however I think the content is too insignificant to be used as influence in my television show.
Rosanna Pansino’s YouTube channelOn Rosanna Pansino’s YouTube channel you can find her show Nerdy Nummies where she bakes treats inspired by nerd culture. The format is very similar to classic TV cookery shows but includes heavier editing to accommodate for the long time it takes to bake the different treats and to keep the episodes under the ten minute mark. The treats she makes can be either inspired by elements from a nerdy show/film/comic or be exact copies of foods featured which might appeal to cosplayers interested in having food props for photos. She also covers a wide range of fandoms and treats from Harry Potter butterbear to Undertale spider donuts. She has a very cheery and positive persona with unique quirks which is reminiscent of a kids’ TV show host – and her show is family-friendly with no swearing or mature themes, appealing to a wide audience. The show is interactive as she takes requests for bakes from viewers as well as following nerdy trends. The logo for Nerdy Nummies is called the ‘smart cookie’ which is a simple cookie wearing glasses.
Something important that I’ve learnt from looking at these YouTube channels is that it never ends with the video. What I mean by that is, even if you just clicked on the single video for what it promised in the title or the thumbnail it always goes beyond that. For example, Good Mythical Morning has an after-show and behind-the-scenes for every single episode; the hosts have their own joint YouTube channel, podcast and twitter account which is linked in the description of every video; audiences can go out and record their own wheel of mythicality introductions and so much more. All of these channels also have solid branding and often sell merchandise. This shows me that it isn’t just about the individual videos but about the show as a whole, which includes social media interaction and the affiliate website(s).
I have also learnt that being contemporary is key. If you talk about things that have only recently come out then you already have an engaged audience, and if you’re the first to talk about the subject then you beat out your competition.
Looking at YouTube channels has been a big help to me for producing our TV show as it has influenced and inspired the content, the look and the interactivity elements. It has also been interesting to look at YouTube shows in comparison to TV shows; the conventions and limitations of each as well as their similarities.