Town Square has the biting and rousing political commentary that you expect from Cenk Uygur’s main TYT channel but features more panel-driven discussion programming such as “The Point.” As of today, Town Square has 29,627 subscribers and over 4.7 million video views.
In November, YouTube announced that they would give a second round of funding to only 40 percent of its original channels launched in 2012. Many of those channels are still awaiting word from Google about a second rounding of funding.
NMR talked to TYT Chief Operating Officer Steven Oh about Town Square’s success and what the future holds for this dynamic channel.
What does the second round of funding entail for Town Square? How did this come about?
Steven Oh: We can’t discuss specific dollar amounts, but we have been approved for our second round of funding. One of YouTube’s goal with the original channel launch was to create professional, TV-like content, to get beyond the reputation of the platform being about ‘cat videos’, etc. It’s one thing to get 50-100k views on a 4 minute video aimed at teens and young adults and quite another to get that view count on videos about the drug war, atheism, the politics of food, etc. On that note, our recent hour long episode (featuring former Attack Of The Show host Kevin Pereira, and legendary adult film actress Nina Hartley) discussing pornography has 175k views and counting.
What makes Town Square successful?
Our primary Town Square show, “The Point.” is highly produced, long form content that looks great on any platform (mobile, computer, tablet, television). The Young Turks brand is about honesty, and filling the huge unmet demand for compelling, substantive discussions about social issues, current events, and even pop culture. Because “The Point” is a 45-60 minute show made up of three segments, we really get to delve into topics in a much more meaningful way than what you see on television. At the same time, our guests make each episode dynamic, and we’ve had a lot of great contributors, including Russell Simmons, former “Attack of the Show” host Kevin Pereira, Jerry Springer and many more. Finally, we’re lucky to have Ana Kasparian (co-host of The Young Turks) hosting and she’s fantastic.
What can we look forward to seeing from Town Square in 2013?
Aside from more great guests, we’re looking to do some really interesting themed series of shows. For example, a ‘What If’ series that would explore various scenarios (what if drugs/gambling/prostitution were legalized in the U.S. – what are the positive and negative implications?), and an international ‘Sex, Drugs, & Rock ‘n’ Roll’ series that explores the issues of sex/drugs/entertainment in various countries across the globe. Finally, we’re looking to add additional programming – shorter form content that complements the long form that we have: leading voices in politics giving their take, animation, and more. That was our vision from the start, that Town Square would be a hub channel with The Point being our flagship show.