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Young Hollywood is expanding its over-the-top distribution with a new Roku channel.
The channel, which launches Tuesday, features a suite of programming designed exclusively for over-the-top platforms including half-hour series Backstage Diaries and Food Feed. It will also offer a library of more than 2,500 hours of celebrity interviews and pop-culture content.
The move to Roku is part of Young Hollywood CEO R.J. Williams’ plan to turn the digital entertainment company into a next-generation network. Young Hollywood was founded in 2007 to produce celebrity interview videos that could be distributed via its website and to portals like Yahoo and AOL. The company then received funding through YouTube’s original-channel initiative to create programming for the Google-owned streamer.
But today, Williams points to social video and set-top devices like Apple TV and Roku as the future. Young Hollywood, which claims 90 million views a month across digital, social and over-the-top platforms, rolled out on Apple TV with nine original full-length programs earlier this year and is adding to its distribution footprint plans with Roku. “A few years back, YouTube was the main game in town,” says Williams. “It’s still relevant, but it went from being a focus to being one piece of many. Emerging over-the-top is a big focus for us because we’re seeing a lot going on there.”
Williams notes that Young Hollywood audiences are watching video for longer periods of time on Apple TV and tuning in to multiple episodes of a show, likely because the set-top box promotes a lean-back experience akin to watching linear television. With the rollout on Roku, Williams plans to introduce new shows and will experiment with premiering content exclusively on the different platforms. He says that Young Hollywood also has plans for a handful of scripted series and is currently prepping to introduce live programming into the mix.
And the celebrity interviews won’t go away. Young Hollywood recently renewed its deal with Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles in Beverly Hills, where it has operated a studio since 2010. The company now occupies over 2,000 square feet, says Williams, and has added another set for a planned weekly news show that could eventually stream daily.
“We’re a 24/7 network no different than an E! or an MTV,” he says. “We did over 500 hours of programming this year and we’ll do even more next year, so we need all types of content to fill that pipeline. Roku will enhance our audience base, showing that a company that started doing one-off celebrity interviews can expand onto multiple platforms.”
CAA and Bloom Hergott Diemer repped Young Hollywood in the Roku deal.
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