'Ellen DeGeneres Show' Producers on Catching "Lightning in a Bottle," New NBC and YouTube Series

Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.
'The Ellen DeGeneres Show'

David McGuire, executive vp current programming at Telepictures, and Daniel Leary, digital co-executive producer, share secrets of the success of the daytime show at the Edinburgh Television Festival.

How The Ellen DeGeneres Show has made daytime TV and its YouTube and social media clips into must-see content was in focus as the Edinburgh TV Festival kicked off Wednesday.

David McGuire, executive vp current programming at Warner Bros. Television production firm Telepictures Productions, and Daniel Leary, digital co-executive producer of the show, shared key reasons of their success during a session titled "From Daytime Show to Global Brand: The Secrets of the Ellen DeGeneres Show." 

With more than 20 million subscribers on YouTube, 59 Daytime Emmy Awards and the record for the most awarded talk show in the outstanding talk show category, the show has also focused on expanding its presence on digital platforms. It is estimated to reach 23 percent of adults 18 years and older in the U.S. every month.

The two executives answered several questions about the organic use of video on YouTube and social media, saying that the show's bookers have over the years brought in more talent they feel can create moments that can be shared online and go viral.

"Sometimes you catch lighting in a bottle," McGuire said, saying it is a mix of hard work, instinct and luck. He mentioned Sophia Grace and Rosie, two young girls from Essex, England, who became YouTube stars with their rendition of Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass." He recalled that producers of the show quickly booked them when seeing their clip and liking it. “Had the producers waited for 10 minutes, those kids and their parents would have been somewhere else," McGuire said. "We set them up on some chores, and they got bigger and [they ended up returning time and again, and] we ended up making a movie with them." 

McGuire also touted upcoming NBC primetime series Ellen’s Game of Games, unveiled earlier this year. "We take a dozen games [like on the daytime show] and play them over different episodes," he explained the concept. Asked what is key to the games DeGeneres has featured on her daytime show, he said it is not only about game play, but also "about getting Ellen to laugh," which trends to feed the audience's engagement. "It's 1+1=3 at that point," he explained.

Leary touted the Sept. 19 launch of exclusive YouTube show Ellen’s Show Me More Show, which will feature original celebrity interviews, musical performances and zany segments twice a week. He said the free, advertising-supported show would feature episodes of about 11 minutes long.

He then showed a first clip of the show featuring Kevin Spade talking about how he met Adele. The segment featured sketch book art, which Leary said would be part of the show's visuals amid the "Draw My Life" trend online. "Now we are creating those animated sketches of some of our favorite sketches from the show," Leary explained.

He also shared that the popular Ellen's Burning Questions segment would be part of the YouTube show, with the first one to feature Kim Kardashian. 

Last year, DeGeneres expanded her efforts online with a new digital network, dubbed The Ellen Digital Network, featuring a slate of programming from social media talent in a partnership between Ellen Digital Ventures and Warner Bros. TV Group.

Among the programming featured on the network has been content from Tyler Oakley, a series based on the viral "Damn, Daniel" video and an animated series called Ellen's Pet Dish

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