ATTN: Launches Interview Series With George Takei, Gavin Newsom (Exclusive)
After building up its audience on Facebook, video producer ATTN: is expanding onto YouTube with 'Paying Attention.'
ATTN: has spent more than two years building up its audience on Facebook through its short, snappy videos. Now the issues-centric online publisher is bringing its newest series to YouTube.
Los Angeles-based ATTN: on Tuesday will launch Paying Attention, a series of about eight-minute-long video interviews with a range of celebrities and politicians. Each installment, hosted by ATTN: co-founder Matthew Segal, will focus on a cause important to that person. For example, George Takei, who appears in the first episode, talks about immigration and marriage equality.
Other guests include Robert Reich, who served as labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, California lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom, Rep. Keith Ellison, actress Alyssa Milano, and Dirty Jobs' Mike Rowe.
While many of Segal's early interviews have centered on the impact president-elect Donald Trump will have on the guests' signature issues, Segal says that isn't the focus of the series. He adds that future episodes will be less partisan, and that ATTN: has reached out to several conservative leaders about participating in the show. "It's important to have a diversity of voices and guests when you're covering issues," he says.
Paying Attention was conceived as a way to take advantage of some of the more in-depth video footage the company had shot when interviewing people for its shorter Facebook videos. "We've done all these amazing interviews, and a lot of them have been sitting on the shelf," Segal says. "For a while, we've been saying that we've got to make better use of these conversations."
Segal and co-founder Jarrett Moreno previously founded Our Time, a nonprofit that encouraged young people to vote. They founded ATTN: in 2014 to create videos and editorial around issues that matter to that millennial demographic. Although they have a website, Facebook has been their primary method of connecting with their audience, and the main ATTN: page has 3.6 million likes.
But whereas other web video producers have scrambled to catch up to the recent emphasis Facebook has placed on video in users' news feeds, ATTN: sees more established platforms like YouTube as a way to expand its business. It's notable that for all the growth in video that Facebook has seen, it's been slower to add monetization opportunities for video publishers.
ATTN: released a test pilot for Paying Attention on YouTube last year featuring guest Bill Maher, also an ATTN: investor. Though the channel was not a primary distribution tool for ATTN:, the video has more than 4 million views. "That engagement signals that this is a place where longer-form content will be successful," says Jake McGraw, the company's newly hired chief technology officer.
Meanwhile, Paying Attention won't be exclusive to YouTube. The company plans to chop episodes into shorter videos that it can distribute on Facebook and Instagram, too.
Paying Attention premieres Jan. 17 and will release new episodes weekly on YouTube and at ATTN.com.