Wow! Talk about an exciting year in online video.
YouTube creators proved once and for all that they, too, can write great books, star in big movies, and top the Billboard charts. It was also the year that once again proved the power of YOU — the fans, the YouTube-loving community that makes this platform and its talent the biggest and most popular in the world.
Whether it’s a beauty expert like Zoella, a lady trio like Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart, and Mamrie Hart, a violinist like Lindsey Stirling, or our hilarious German friend Flula Borg, these creators inspire and excite.
But most importantly, YouTube creators are finally being taken seriously as “real” entertainers. Hey! Who knew there was something to this thing called YouTube? *sarcasm*
So much has happened since last year’s VidCon: Freddie Wong raised nearly $1 million for the third season of “Video Game High School,” while also locking in a deal with Lionsgate; the hilarious Helbig, Hart, and Hart starred in “Camp Takota,” a YouTuber-created feature film released digitally to record-breaking sales even after nearly losing its distribution; Grace Helbig relaunched her channel ItsGrace from scratch and brought her fans along; Flula Borg and Jimmy Tatro nabbed roles in major blockbusters alongside “mainstream” celebrities; VidCon papa bear John Green and his wife Sarah launched “The Art Assignment” for PBS, while his critically acclaimed novel, “The Fault in Our Stars,” was adapted into a feature film of its own.
Speaking of books and book deals: Bernie Su’s digital series “Lizzie Bennet Diaries” landed a book extension; Mamrie Hart, Hannah Hart, and Grace Helbig are all expanding to print; and United Talent Agency created Keywords Press to help even more YouTubers write and publish books.
And that’s not nearly all. Since the last VidCon, Disney bought Maker Studios, AwesomenessTV (itself owned by Dreamworks Animation) acquired Big Frame, while many buyers seem very interested in another major MCN in Fullscreen.
But Hollywood isn’t alone in wanting a piece of the YouTube talent pie, even the government is tapping YouTubers.
President Obama held a private gathering for select YouTubers, including Hannah Hart, The Fine Brothers, Tyler Oakley, and Jash, to discuss how to better reach and engage with younger generations. Kid President, DulceCandy, and others were part of this year’s White House Correspondents Dinner Week (#NerdProm!).
Clearly the opportunities for YouTube creators — emerging and established — to break into the “mainstream” have never been better.
Old Hollywood is finally seeing, with wide eyes and deep pockets, that YouTube talent aren’t just a way into the future; that future is already here.
The online video business is vibrant. The talent is poppin’. And if VidCon 2015 brings even half as much growth and excitement as we’ve seen since VidCon 2013, then we might need to start looking for something bigger than the Anaheim Convention Center. Through it all, VideoInk will be there covering the news and the deals that continue to impact this exciting industry.
This column was originally published in the VidCon 2014 Guidebook.