Rather than waiting out the pandemic, some entertainment companies are adapting to its unique limitations.
ViacomCBS’s Awesomeness just greenlit two original series in remote production, which are expected to debut on YouTube in June.
Tentatively titled “The Click,” the first show is a docu-series that brings together a group of young strangers as they adjust to life under quarantine, and overcome the limitations of video chat to achieve intimate connections.
The second show, “Date Drop,” subjects YouTube influencers to speed dating via videoconference.
Both projects are targeting Generation Z viewers, which have had some of their prime dating years interrupted by the health crisis.
Each series is also designed to serve as a distraction from the seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis, according to Nikki Scoggins, senior vice president, creative at Awesomeness Digital Studio.
“We came up with these new formats as a way to create and connect with our audience while in quarantine, but brands don’t have to be concerned about being associated with the serious tone in today’s marketplace that may not work for them right now,” Scoggins said. “We wanted to do something that’s fresh, fun and will be evergreen when things are back to normal.”
Still looking for sponsors, Scoggins said food and QSR brands would be perfect for both projects.
“Those categories lend themselves to easy integration,” she said. “For the dating shows, eating the same food or getting take out from the same place helps to share an experience, even if you’re on a date on video conference.”
Awesomeness is also developing two new YouTube projects based on its hit show “My Dream Quinceañera.”
One is a three-part multiplatform special, which will attempt to engage fans in planning an at-home quinceañera celebration, while the other will follow Honey Robinson, one of show’s existing stars.
Separately, Awesomeness says that more than 100 new episodes are currently in development to support its existing titles, including “The Daily Report,” “Life After Quince,” “Model Material” and “Cheerleaders,”
If and when entertainment companies can return to normal is an open question. Among other issues, producers and unions must first agree on new post-outbreak industry standards.As part of a broader restructuring last year, Brian Robbins, Nickelodeon president, was assigned to oversee Awesomeness, which he cofounded. It was acquired by Viacom in 2018.