What's Fullscreen? For $4.99, Maybe Viewers Will Find Out

The new SVOD offering Fullscreen begins today, another earnest attempt to reach the 13-to-30 demographic.

We’ll find out quickly enough, but I who at 30 likes something in the same way as he or she did at 13?

When you are in junior high school, you are very likely to look at life one way, and when you have $50,000 in student loan debt, or a first grader in the back seat, or you’ve stayed out til 5 in the morning partying, you look at life in different ways.

So when Fullscreen says it wants to be “talking” to that age bracket, I say good luck. That they intend to do most of that talking via mobile devices doesn’t seem to lessen or increase the difficulty. It’s where the fish is biting these days.

Various reports say Fullscreen would be happy with 5 million subscribers a $4.99 a month; there are about 80 million millennials and that generally fits Fullscreen’s demo target so that seems reachable, if, if, if. . .

Fullscreen, heretofore a YouTube multichannnel network that gets 5 billion views a month, is owned by Otter Media. That’s the joint venture between AT&T and the Chernin Company that has methodically and true-believer-like been building up the brand and testing the waters.

Earlier this year, it signed deals with five digital personalities--known as Kingsley, Teala Dunn, TipsyBartender, Catrific and Jay Alvarez. They might not sound like much to you, but together have 8.2 million YouTube subscribers.

That brings the count of Fullscreen partners to 75,000. You know that Joni Mitchell line: “I used to count lovers like railroad cars, I’d count them on my side. . .” Well, it’s like that.

If you look for Fullscreen on YouTube, what you mainly find are videos from YouTubers who have recorded diatribes about how much they hate partnering with them. It seems that’s a kind of goes-with-the-territory kind of MCN problem. Creators don’t like to give away a percentage of their take to the overlords.

My point is that very few Fullscreen viewers know the Fullscreen brand. It's not really a consumer brand. Does that matter? Will they know they want to be there? Then again, whatever it could have been called wouldn’t have been identifiable either. Fullscreen execs keep comparing what they’re going for to the first days of MTV, which also, let's recall, came out of nowhere.

But it was free.

Getting many young people (or perhaps their parents)  to pay $4.99 a month could be tough work, even if the pay version of Fullscreen is offering the presence of bona fide YouTube stars Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart in a remake of the old TV hit, “Electra Woman and DynaGirl.”

Shane Dawson, another YouTube fave, also has a presence here. It is also presenting once-bad boy Bret-Easton Ellis-directed drama “The Deleted” that sounds intriguing, edgy and sufficiently SVOD-ish.

Other features, like reruns of network hits (some from the former WB, which skewed young) like “Dawson’s Creek” and “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” might, oddly, appeal to the older end of the Fullscreen demo.

Whether that’s enough will be a question answered soon.

YouTube Red already charges a monthly fee to see YouTube stars. And Verizon just acquired a 25% stake in YouTube-incubated Awesomeness TV and promises its own pay stand-alone channel too. So the idea of paying for content is heading into a new phase. And it’s crowded.
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