Astronauts Wanted, the digital studio from MTV veteran Judy McGrath, is bringing two of its franchises to Verizon’s go90 mobile video service.
Verizon has ordered two new seasons of Tawk with Awkwafina, a comedic talk show hosted by rapper Nora Lum, aka Awkwafina. Lum, who will appear in Neighbors 2, brings the satire from her music to the show, which during the first season generated more than 90,000 views on the Astronauts Wanted YouTube channel. Upcoming guests include Alia Shawkat, YouTuber Lilly Singh and Orange is the New Black stars Laura Gomez and Abigail Savage. New episodes of Tawk premiere Nov. 11 exclusively on go90.
McGrath tells The Hollywood Reporter that the Verizon deal gives Tawk a broader platform. “Tawk was one of the first series we ever did, and we did it on our own because we had fallen in love with her,” she says. “It was really great to give her a platform to launch and to make her ideas, along with some of ours, come to life. To be able to sell two seasons of that to Verizon means it will live in a place where her audience is going to be.”
Astronauts Wanted is also bringing HeyUSA spinoff HeyUSA_X exclusively to go90. The first season of the series featured YouTube comedians Mamrie Hart and Grace Helbig as they traveled around the country, and a second season starred Hart with a revolving door of guest travelers. This expansion with see two new social media stars tackle extreme challenges chosen by fans. Helbig and Hart will executive produce the series, which will premiere in early 2016, with Astronauts Wanted.
“This is a perfect platform for us,” says McGrath. “Go90 is reaching out to a demographic that we’re most interested in. They’re experimental and brave with their original content. They have a great library — you’re next to BuzzFeed and Comedy Central. The fact that we have two franchises here that will get a new life on an exciting new platform like this is really great.”
McGrath launched Astronauts Wanted after a long career at MTV Networks, where she served as chairman and CEO. The company is focused on producing content for digital platforms. Among its current projects is A Trip to Unicorn Island, a documentary about Lilly Singh that will premiere on YouTube Red.
Tawk and HeyUSA_X are the latest in a string of exclusive deals that Verizon has struck to boost the offerings of go90. The recently launched video app will also feature Marvel and Star Wars-themed shows from Maker Studios and programming from AwesomenessTV, in addition to licensed content from networks including Comedy Central and eventually sports.