OWN's YouTube Partnership Pays Off With Digital Series (Exclusive)
The Oprah Winfrey Network has been working out of YouTube Space LA for more than six months to experiment with digital formats and online talent. The result of that partnership is a growing slate of digital programming.
OWN plans to debut a new web series on Aug. 28 that will feature interviews with celebrity guests about the qualities that define them. After the first two episodes of Who Am I premiere this Thursday, subsequent two- to three-minute episodes will become available each week. Guests will include Nicole Richie, beauty vlogger Michelle Phan, Brandy, former American Idol judge Randy Jackson and La Toya Jackson.
Who Am I is the second digital series from OWN. #OWNSHOW, a daily series that features stories from the Oprah community, debuted in March with the relaunch of Oprah.com, a digital hub for the network, O, The Oprah Magazine and Harpo Studios.
OWN's senior vp digital Glenn Kaino tells The Hollywood Reporter that Who Am I and #OWNSHOW are part of a larger digital effort at the cable network.
"This is just the beginning of a strategy that we're embarking upon to extend our offering and expand the mission of what we're trying to accomplish," he says. "It began with the relaunch of the website and the launch of the #OWNSHOW. As these projects mature, we’ll have a lot more planned."
OWN is one of a handful of traditional media players who have taken advantage of the residency program that YouTube offers at its production space in Playa Vista and will work out of that space through the end of the year. The residency offers use of the space's studios and production facilities for long-term projects to creators with more than 100,000 subscribers.
Liam Collins, head of YouTube Space LA, says that he's impressed by the ways that OWN has programmed its YouTube channel, which has more than 300,000 subscribers, with content from across Winfrey's various media properties.
"They’ll be a great beacon to other media companies I hope that have just all kinds of content on the shelf that could be really relevant to this audience," he says. "Having them here experimenting is great. The idea that they’re in the same environment as all of these emerging creators is what really makes it for me."
Kaino adds that OWN was motivated to take up residency at YouTube not for the free studio space but for the opportunity to connect with the online video streamer and its content creators.
"It's important for us to make an effort and connect with our viewers where they're at," he says. "As we were developing our original content strategies, connecting with YouTube was a big part of that."
Watch the trailer for Who Am I here: