Netflix doesn’t think there is enough TV that both kids and adults can actually enjoy together, and part of its solution to the problem is signing YouTube and Vine stars to its roster.
Last week, Netflix announced that it would be producing a new series with Cameron Dallas, a 21-year-old star who first gained fame through posting his wacky antics on Vine, the video-sharing app owned by Twitter. Netflix also has a show with YouTube star Miranda Sings in the works.
Netflix told Digiday that Dallas’ new show is part of larger strategy for the company, spurred by company research which showed “40 per cent of TV viewers were underserved when it came to programming that the whole family could watch.”
Netflix, and its competitors like Hulu and Amazon, have a ton of kids’ programming. But there is still a bit of a gulf between children’s cartoons and premium Netflix dramas like “Narcos.”
“Much of premium television today is rated TV-MA. And there’s been limited scripted broadcast television over the past 15 years designed for a broader audience,” Brian Wright, who heads up family programming at Netflix, told Digiday. “We are really interested in elevating the YA and family space in TV. If you get it right, you don’t limit yourself to one demo — you can get a broad cross-section of kids, teens, and adults.”
YA, or “young-adult,” is a particularly interesting area for Netflix. The genre has seen monster hits in the “book-to-movie” lane, notably with adult-friendly series like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. But it hasn’t found its stride to the same extent in premium TV. The iconic hits from powerhouses like HBO don’t exactly shy away from the more graphic parts of human life: “Game of Thrones” is a perfect example. You couldn’t really describe it as family fare.
Netflix and Hulu, which has worked with YouTube star Freddie Wong, seem to think this new generation of social media stars can help fill in teen programming. The real question is whether these shows will be at all compelling for adults.
Wright’s comments to Digiday suggest a Netflix dream of the whole family sitting around and having a great time watching Cameron Dallas. Personally, I’m not so sure.
YouTube Red launched its premium service with premium content based around YouTube stars. But when I reviewed it, the videos were a chore to watch. For me, they simply didn’t have the same crossover appeal as the blockbuster YA franchises (even Twilight, and that’s saying something).
But perhaps Netflix can find the secret formula that makes YouTube stars into the crossover living room stars of the future.