Fullscreen Targets Teen Audience With New Subscription Service
For $5 a month, Fullscreen will also offer up teen-oriented originals starring Grace Helbig and Shane Dawson.
Subscription video services have proliferated over the last year, but Fullscreen believes there is one audience not yet being served by this market: always-connected, YouTube-obsessed teens.
The company, which is owned by AT&T and The Chernin Group’s Otter Media joint venture, is prepping the April 26 launch of a subscription video service of its own — titled fullscreen with a lowercase “F” — programmed with a slate of originals that CEO George Strompolos believes will “help define the brand” for its target 13-30 demographic. They include a remake of Sid and Marty Kraft’s Electra Woman and Dyna Girl starring Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart, a dark comedy set at a prep school from comedians Paul Scheer and Curtis Gwinn, and a video podcast from host Shane Dawson. Licensed shows including Dawson’s Creek and Saved by the Bell will help bulk up fullscreen’s library of content.
The service, which at $4.99 a month falls near the lower end of subscription video price points, will be available on desktop, via a mobile app and on Chromecast. The app will come with built-in social features that give fans the ability to comment on videos, make GIFs and connect with other subscribers. “We’re giving the audience a chance to be creative themselves,” explains Strompolos. “They don’t want to just watch. They want to participate, remix, comment, answer questions. We’re trying to create a highly interactive environment where the audience feels like they have authorship.”
Fullscreen’s challenge will be in standing out in the increasingly crowded, and competitive, streaming landscape. In the last year alone, streaming services have launched from YouTube, NBCUniversal, HBO and Showtime. Meanwhile, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are duking it out for supremacy by spending big sums on flashy originals and exclusive licensed series.
Strompolos acknowledges the challenge but notes that he doesn’t view broad services like Netflix or Hulu as competitors. “Those are household services that maybe dad pays for and every gets value out of,” he says. “This service is meant to be for somebody. That 17-year-old girl who’s a huge Grace Helbig fan. This is meant to be a place for her to find a show with Grace but also discover great content.”
Even so, building a subscription base can be a slow process. After 10 months on the market, HBO Now had around 800,000 subscribers, well below many analysts’ expectations given the cable net’s robust library of hits like Game of Thrones, documentaries and licensed movies. Dish’s SlingTV is reported to have fewer subscribers to its live TV service.
Fullscreen faces the additional test of turning itself into a consumer brand. The company started in 2011 as a network of YouTube creators that operated primarily behind the scenes. As it has diversified into production of digital series and movies, it has made strides to become a consumer facing brand.
Fullscreen, which has been eyeing a jump into the subscription video space for well over a year, has made a number of moves to support this launch. In November, the company hired former Oxygen president Jason Klarman to oversee the molding of its brand as chief marketing officer. It also tapped former Hulu executive Andy Forssell, the architect of Hulu’s originals push who served as interim CEO for six month, to run day-to-day as COO.
And it has leveraged its relationships with owners AT&T and The Chernin Group, whose Otter Media also owns anime-focused subscription service Crunchyroll and DIY service CreativeBug. AT&T, which in addition to selling cellular service also owns cable TV operator DirecTV, will act as a launch sponsor for fullscreen by marketing and promoting the service to its more than 100 million customers. The telecom giant will also co-produce new projects with Fullscreen that will air both on the subscription service and on a Fullscreen programming block on DirecTV’s Audience Network.
“Fullscreen SVOD is an important part of our entertainment strategy for this demographic and a great fit with our mobile, video and broadband services,” said AT&T Entertainment Group CEO John Stankey. “We’re pleased to be working with a proven leader in creating content for Millennials that’s relevant, social and designed for viewing on mobile and other connected devices.”
Fullscreen will also utilize the talent starring in its original series to market the service, and it will experiment with some paid marketing campaigns.
And while questions remain about whether young people are ponying up for content online, Strompolos believes there is an audience for fullscreen. “We feel there’s a pretty big gap in the market right now for a premium entertainment service for the young adult audience,” he says. “There are others in the space near the sweet spot, but none of them are definitely a network for people who grew up with these social media personalities, doing it in an environment that combines original content and community. That will exist and we’re well positioned to pull it off.”
Fullscreen’s original programming will include:
Electra Woman & Dyna Girl
Cult classic. New spin. A fresh take on Sid and Marty Krofft’s original 1970s TV series, Electra Woman (Grace Helbig) and Dyna Girl (Hannah Hart) are underappreciated crime-fighters until a viral video gives them the chance to trade small-town Ohio for the big time when a Hollywood superhero agent Dan Dixon (Andy Buckley) comes knocking. Tired of flying under the superhero radar but with a burning desire to stay true to their roots, the pair are supplied with new costumes and fake tragic backstories. Sure, this is what they dreamed of: fame, fortune, high-tech gadgets, but what heroic price must be paid for newfound stardom? When Los Angeles falls into crisis, it’s up to Electra Woman and Dyna Girl to battle ethical dilemmas, growing egos and a supervillain or two to save the day. But can they save each other first? (8 x :11)
Filthy Preppy Teen$
From the outside, Brewster Bay Preparatory Academy seems like a serene high school for the wealthy, elite and beautiful. But, within its walls, personal politics and ruthless social climbing means all-out war. On the front lines are twins Meegan (Hannah Kasulka) and Chaad (Max Carver). After months away from school, shipwrecked, they've now returned to Senior Year and must claw their way back up to the top. Master manipulators, nothing and no one is off-limits. Their teenage allies (or enemies, depending on the day) include the new Queen Bee Beatrix (Malese Joy), secretly straight Braff (Tajh Bellow) and high-powered lawyer Parker (Dylan Gelula). It's an intense, epic teen drama ... but as a comedy. Created by Curtis Gwinn (The Walking Dead, The Leftovers), Paul Scheer (Party Over Here, Fresh Off the Boat), Jonathan Stern (Childrens Hospital, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp) and Keith Quinn (The LXD, Jackass 3.5). (8 x :11)
Jack & Dean of All Trades
Jack (Jack Howard) and Dean (Dean Dobbs) are nice normal guys who happen to spend a lot of time imagining weird stuff. Unemployed recent university graduates with a stunning lack of marketable skills, the pair turn to their great hope: a temping agency. As their esoteric and quirky employment agent Marv (Jessica Hynes) sets them up with a series of odd jobs, Jack and Dean try their hands as bakers, babysitters and even morgue attendants. But, it turns out there is no job that they can do without spectacularly disastrous consequences. Unlucky in love and vocations alike, all Jack and Dean seem to have are each other and their wild imaginations. Oh, and there are absolutely going to be musical numbers. (6 x :11)
Andre Meadows (Black Nerd Comedy) is a nerd from the '80s and '90s who knows more about superheroes than you or anyone you know. Katie Wilson is a Millennial geek raised on a steady diet of Disney movies, theater references and strong opinions. Kingdom Geek is an unhinged and geeked-out throwdown of pop culture. Knowledgeable, fired-up and not afraid to debate each other into the floor, Andre and Katie welcome a variety of nerd culture-loving guests as they debate and celebrate topics that range from film, TV, gaming, comics and pretty much everything else. (26 episodes)
Aspiring dancer Ethan (Patrick Cook) moves to Los Angeles to discover that making it in today's digital era is a whole new ballgame — just ask Bridget Barnes (Megan Batoon), whose online channel is devoted to the cutthroat dance scene. Schooled by his rising star cousin Sammie (Raychel Weiner) and her dance crew, Ethan adapts to his new fish-out-of-water life. Capturing the highs and lows of the aspiring artist and the emotional roller coaster of young love, Making Moves features incredible choreography performed by dancers you won’t soon forget. (8 x :11)
My Selfie Life
Everyone has a story to tell. Bold, refreshing and brutally honest, My Selfie Life is a docuseries that takes an up-close and unfiltered look at the lives of young Americans. Shot by the subjects themselves, each episode follows a life-changing moment in the journey toward self-discovery for several extraordinary young people, ranging from the relatable to the practically unimaginable: dealing with a twin’s terminal illness, beginning a gender transition as a nursing dad, choosing between love and starting a new life in America, publicly losing 200 pounds via Instagram and much more. (10 x :22)
Shane & Friends
Laugh until it hurts with a series that dives into the non-stop tea-spilling, shade-throwing, tears-of-laughter-inducing world of Shane Dawson. Along for the ride and bringing extra sass is Shane's co-host/producer, Jessie Buttafuoco. As a team, Shane and Jess dish about pop culture, play ridiculous games and, ultimately, dig deep into the lives of their celebrity guests, serving up brutally honest questions that others might not have the gusto to ask. On Shane & Friends, everything is on the table, nothing is off-limits and everything is hilarious. (26 episodes)
Zall Good With Alexis G. Zall
In her video series that covers just about everything, Alexis G. Zall finds new ways to interview fascinating young people who do extraordinary things. Using her own signature brand of cheerful comedy and blunt-force honesty, Alexis gets to know her guests and audience through games, jokes, fan interactions and anything else that might make things just a little bit weird. Covering topics and issues that she cares passionately about, Alexis takes viewers on a bold and impressive journey as she says goodbye to her teens and enters the adult world on her own. (26 episodes)