Fullscreen Goes OTT, A Play For YouTube Fans

Fullscreen, the multichannel network with some of YouTube's best known stars, will launch an over-the-top pay channel on April 26. To some degree, it takes on YouTube’s newish Red channel at what it does.

The new over-the-top subscription channel will be commercial free, and possibly the biggest, brightest chance to see if digital stars have the horsepower to make it on their own.

They probably do, at least to the degree Fullscreen has to be a success to finance their efforts. YouTube Red and Vessel already offer a wide array of what-do-call-it?--digital pop culture--content. Mostly, they operate as a conduit for creators and not the creative hub itself.

Fullscreen seems to be breaking a little ground with that, a small studio (by studio standards) stepping out on its own.

It’s hard to imagine it will fall flat on its face. Fullscreen is now majority owned by Otter Media, the company co-owned by the Chernin Group and AT&T. Peter Chernin, the former News Corp. executive, and AT&T with its newly acquired DirecTV and mobile service, bring a lot of scale and expertise.



Chernin floated the subscription channel last year before YouTube Red and NBC’s all-comedy Seeso OTT services began. Fullscreen comes with roster of digital programs and stars that reach more than a half billion subscribers, most of them millennials or younger. 

One problem it may have is that virtually none of them could identify Fullscreen, which as an MCN is basically anonymous.

To ask young users to plunk down the $4.99 monthly subscription fee might be a bit of a task--doubters said the same about YouTube Red. But it’s not really that huge: If Fullscreen’s 75,00 creators can’t spread the word, then they are pretty unworthy influencers.

Watching a promo reel Fullscreen uploaded to YouTube today, you get the idea they have the guns.

“Where people get you and you get them” is one of Fullscreen’s slogans and it speaks to its audience of young people, the way the old WB network once did on TV. Indeed,  reruns of WB’s hit “Dawson’s Creek” will show up on Fullscreen, which angles itself as a mobile offering, like Seeso and Verizon’s Go90, but will work fine with laptops, too.

Fullscreen’s CEO, George Strompolos makes the better analogy to MTV.

“If you were to relaunch a network like MTV today, how would you do it? You would probably do it in an over-the-top environment,” he told TechCrunch. “You would probably do it with the new generation of creators who have captured the hearts and minds of the youth, and you would probably deliver it in a mobile-first experience. And that’s what we put together.”

(MTV is going through another re-invention itself and just named former Conde Nast executive Michael Klein as its new EVP, original content.)

Fullscreen will be leaning on a roster of YouTubers that are about as well known as anybody that stars on that platform, but especially Grace Helbig, The Fine Bros and Jack & Dean. A Fullscreen centerpiece seems to be “Electra-Woman & Dyna Girl,” a Sid and Marty Krofft update staring Helbig and her bestie, Hannah Hart.

If nothing else. Fullscreen might be vivid proof of the lure YouTube stars have on younger demos. It might also be another dagger into the heart of commercial-driven content. It’s not like advertising-supported content is going away but with Amazon, Netflix and others, millions of viewers won’t have much use for it.
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