Looking For An Online Hit, HBO Tries A Bunch Of YouTube Cewebrities

Entourage is back on the air, which is good for HBO, but let’s be honest: Time Warner’s (TWX) pay-TV service has lost a good bit of its mojo to CBS’s Showtime.

It turns out HBO is casting for a hit online as well. The network gave a development deal to Michael “What The Buck Show” Buckley and is now throwing a host of YouTube demi-celebs into an ensemble Web series, “Hooking Up.”

The series will star Jessica Rose, of lonelygirl15 fame, sxephil (Phil DeFranco), and kevjumba (Kevin Wu), but will include guest appearances by Buckley, Kevin Nalts, Charles Trippy and “Mr. Safety” Cory Williams.

Fran Shea, head of HBO’s Web development arm HBOlabs called it “a big risk to take two non-actors and put them in lead roles,” to The Hollywood Reporter, but it really isn’t much of a risk at all. HBO can’t be spending much on the series, and it’s only committed to 10 episodes, so if it flops, no biggie.

But there should be enough curiosity among the vloggers’ fan base to keep it from flopping: The YouTube stars involved have well over a million subscribers to their respective YouTube channels.

The show, set at the fictional “Bask U,” will be distributed on YouTube, MySpace and Oddly, HBO is selling no advertising against the first season — another way to keep the risks low, and a sign the network doesn’t expect much from it. Still, probably an experiment worth trying.

See Also:
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TubeMogul Launches Web Video “Marketplace” For Advertisers
Online Channel-Flippers Barely Stop For Video

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