We told you last week that Maker Studios partnered with rapper-actor-producer-product endorser Snoop Dogg to create more YouTube content. Now another 90s icon, semi-retired comedian Jerry Seinfeld, is going the YouTube route. He will debut his new web series, “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee,” July 19, which judging from the trailer, is about Seinfeld and his top comedian friends driving in one of his many luxury vehicles and having conversations.
This seemingly low-budget, unscripted web series is coming from a man whose last success happened at a time when people still used AOL and browsed the Internet through Netscape.
With all the talk about rising YouTube stars earning six figures and being hounded by advertisers, celebrities who have made their mark the traditional way—television, radio and film—are increasingly turning to online video. Here’s my speculation why:
1. All That Downtime
Jerry Seinfeld hasn’t attempted another sitcom since “Seinfeld” ended, but what’s stopping him from jumping to the Web? Celebrities in between projects have to do something to fulfill their fans’ obsession. Snoop Dogg’s YouTube appearances hosting a fake news show seemed to resonate with fans watching WestFestTV.
2. Going Where The Fans Are
Entertainment isn’t limited to watching television on your couch, going to the movies or listening to music on the radio. It’s an all-out visual assault at every waking moment, and smartphones and laptops help fuel this constant barrage of entertainment content. Erstwhile celebrities embracing YouTube have seen their careers gain more prominence lately as well. If you lead your fans, like Brian McKnight did through his video “If You’re Ready To Learn,” they will follow by making it viral.
3. Less $$ Than A Blockbuster
The great thing about celebrities trying to make their mark on YouTube is the lower costs associated with producing web series. On average, content takes up less time than, say, a 30-minute sitcom or a 2-hour movie, which means that each episode won’t require a huge investment. Low-budget web comedies like Lisa Kudrow’s “Web Therapy” even go so far as piquing the interest of cable channels like Showtime, which have since turned them into sitcoms.
4. More Creative Freedom
While celebrities do have to make sure that their fans are actually watching their stuff on YouTube, the great thing about them starting web series or productions is that they’re not bound to traditional studio standards. It’s a better way for fans to see what other talents they have behind the fame. However, with YouTube trying to remake itself as a Hollywood carbon copy, that sense of independence for traditional artists taking a break from the norm may end.
5. YouTube Really Wants Them
This year, YouTube is eager to make more money through advertising by acting more like Hollywood. Why? Funny cat videos with a million views just aren’t as appealing to advertisers. However, a new web channel featuring a drama series from Julia Stiles and Jennifer Garner looks like a promising cash cow. It’s no wonder these stars are getting more publicity than the homegrown talent that calls YouTube home.