Viacom’s VidCon, the world’s largest online video gathering event, is debuting in London this week as part of its push into international markets.
The inaugural VidCon London will take place at the Excel Center Feb. 14-17 with a mix of popular YouTube creators from the U.K., U.S. and beyond, fans and businesses that have become a mainstay of VidCons elsewhere.
Viacom acquired VidCon, whose U.S. flagship event will celebrate its 10th anniversary in July, in February 2018 as part of a broader push into digital video and vowed to help its continued growth. The event, co-founded by brothers John and Hank Green, began as a small Century City outing for YouTubers from across the country. It has since grown to take over most of the area around the Anaheim Convention Center.
VidCon CEO Jim Louderback and his team have started pushing beyond the U.S., and Viacom has continued that expansion. The company put on two VidCon Europe events in Amsterdam and Melbourne, Australia, in 2017 and 2018, the latter of which will return.
Despite Brexit, London made sense as the host city for a new European event, the VidCon boss says. "We wanted to go somewhere where we can talk to the community passionate about online video," Louderback tells THR. "We think London is the right place. We are super excited about the event. And we’ll think about other places from there. We’re less than a year into the acquisition, and London is the first [international addition], but probably not the last."
It is also a chance to boost the interaction with British online creators. “There is such a great group of creators in the U.K., so we are excited about bringing our unique brand of conference and festival together to celebrate all this great creativity,” says Louderback. "We bring some of the top creators from the U.K. over to the U.S. every year, but it’s a small percentage."
Across the three events in Anaheim, London and Melbourne, VidCon says it will this year host more than 90,000 attendees, with VidCon London alone expected to attract 10,000 fans. Louderback says the event could sell out depending on the number of last-minute attendees.
As in the U.S., the London event will feature three tracks — the Community Track, which is about fun, entertainment and networking; the Creator Track, which includes Q&As and workshops that give content creators the opportunity to learn from the most successful vloggers; and the Industry Track for corporations, brands and technology companies building businesses in the online video space.
The lineup of YouTubers speaking and appearing at VidCon London includes people from the gaming, beauty, lifestyle and vlogging fields, among others.
Comedy and musical duo Rhett & Link, known for their daily morning show Good Mythical Morning, will open the event with a concert and also hold a Q&A at VidCon London. Other stars to be featured include KSI, gaming and blogging expert Joey Graceffa, The Merrell Twins, Ben Phillips, Riyadh K, Abz & Fio, fashion, beauty and lifestyle YouTubers Saffron Barker, Patricia Bright, Roxxsaurus, LookingForLewys and Patrick Starrr, and such comedy talent as Amber Doig-Thorne, Marcus Butler, Daz Black and Laura Edwards.
Viacom brands will also have a strong presence. Nathan Henry will be one of the stars of MTV U.K. hit show Geordie Shore to appear at VidCon London. "They really helped us with the talent side at the crossover between television and the Internet, so we are bringing out some of the stars of Geordie Shore," Louderback says about Viacom’s role. “Without Viacom, it would be much harder to identify and get them to show up.” The parent company also helped with the marketing and sales side. “People in the U.K. and Europe may know VidCon, but it is not as widely known as in the U.S.,” the VidCon CEO says. “The people in London have been so good at helping us get the word out and in a way that speaks to the British audience.”
No surprise then that the sponsors for the inaugural U.K. event include some big names, such as Snap and MetFilm School London.
“One of the interesting things right now is animation,” Louderback says when asked about current trends in online video. “They don’t create SpongeBob or the next Paw Patrol, but they are using the format of vlogging but they are animating themselves in it. That has taken off in this incredible way.”
That’s why TheOdd1sOut, one of the top YouTube animation creators, will re-create some of the songs and most popular videos at VidCon London. “We did something similar in Melbourne,” says Louderback, “and it basically crushed Twitter in Australia.”