AwesomenessTV President Talks Film Strategy, "Landmark" Verizon Deal

Rae Marshall
A documentary about YouTube star Tyler Oakley is among the films AwesomenessTV is rolling out.

President Brett Bouttier at an industry conference in New York speaks about "What Millennials Watch and Want."

"What Millennials Watch and Want" was the topic that AwesomenessTV president Brett Bouttier discussed at an industry conference in New York on Thursday in addition to the DreamWorks Animation unit's film strategy. 

Describing movies as an opportunity for the company, he said: "Major studios are not serving this demo. Nothing is really made for them, starring them." He pointed to past films that were popular with and were all about young demographics, such as as Clueless.

Speaking at the FBR Digital Media Thought Leaders Day at The Paley Center in New York in a session that was webcast, Bouttier said the company made six films this year and "we’ll release at least that many next year," with the social media appeal of its digital stars helping avoid marketing costs.

Could AwesomenessTV films end up in cinemas one day? "Possibly," Bouttier said. "We’ll know it when we see it." Calling it "a big decision to make," he said, "right now we’re being efficient and disciplined," but in cinemas one can’t spend zero on marketing. Said Bouttier: "I think that the chance that the next American Pie is going to come from us is pretty high."

The executive also noted that upcoming documentary Snervous, about the life of YouTube star Tyler Oakley, will premiere in December and get some play in theaters. "We’ll actually roll that out in a limited theatrical release, more of a demand-based release," he explained. Oakley is represented by Big Frame, the talent management arm of AwesomenessTV.

"We're absolutely keeping AwesomenessTV focused on 12-24-year-olds," Bouttier said when asked if the company will try to evolve its content strategy to grow older with its current audience. "That would kill you if you wanted to evolve your channel as your audience grows up." He said MTV did that, and "it killed the pop cultural relevance" and "they are paying the price for it today."

Asked about Verizon’s new Go90 service, for which AwesomenessTV is a key content partner, Bouttier said "the product looks good" and Verizon is a big marketer, which should make it successful. "It’s landmark for a variety of reasons," he said about the deal's significance for his company, highlighting that it is one of the first digital video services that has licensed key content for young demos from emerging players like AwesomenessTV.

"Working with Jeffrey Katzenberg and his team has been invaluable," he also said on Thursday when asked about how his team has worked with the DreamWorks Animation CEO and his team.

Asked about young viewers' TV viewing habits and how they affect traditional TV, Bouttier said: "We’re sort of in the eye of the hurricane." He said the trends are similar across all demos, but trend lines are "not as aggressive" outside AwesomenessTV's core demo of 12-24 year-olds. He said millennials have seen a 30-percent drop in linear TV viewing over the past five years, with no one in the demo picking the TV set as the one device they would want to have if they were restricted to just one.

While "being in the media business is really good," he said changing usage trends must be addressed, adding that digital media consumption marks the first time that young people's behavior is being adopted by older demos. He said that while traditional entertainment companies still have business models that depend on overnight or early ratings, he said AwesomenessTV is free from such pressures.

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