“It’s really good content that nobody has ever seen on YouTube before,” Higa said, emphasizing that quality is the focus of the channel. “It’s not a big deal that Asians are in this content.”
Google’s funding, he said, has given the channel the chance to up the production quality of their shows — something that will be immediately apparent for regular viewers of Higa, See and Wu who have built major audiences with shows that use very little equipment.
“I’m still talking to the audience, just with more crew,” Wu said. “There’s a different feel to it. It’s a combination: It’s this YouTube world trying to bridge the gap by bringing some elements of TV and still bringing in elements of my YouTube channel as well.”
Wu will be featured in a regular show on the channel, KevJumba Takes All, a reality competition show that will feature him challenging celebrities to off-beat battles.
He’ll challenge geek goddess Felicia Day to beat him on taking the SAT’s, he said, and will also see if he can best Glee’s Harry Shum in a dance competition.
Higa will host Internet Icon, an American Idol-like show that pits comedy teams against each other to complete a series of challenges.
“They get a challenge the day before and they need to produce, write, film and edit a whole video in one day,” Higa said. The winner gets cash, prizes and the opportunity to meet with film director Andy Fickman. But, Higa said, the real prize is the exposure the teams get and he’s happy to help new folks make their mark in online video.
“It’s about getting eyeballs on these brilliant people who deserve a lot more than they have,” he said.
Higa had come up with the concept for the show about two years ago, but couldn’t get networks to take on the idea.
“No network was interested, no one wanted to talk about the Internet,” he said. “Now that we have these networks that we create on the side, we can do it on our own.”
That is exactly the point of the funded channels, said Alex Carloss, the head of original programming at YouTube.
“YouTube encourages people who are smart, engaged and curious, as well as underserved in other media,” he said. “We’re very proud of the diversity we can bring.”
Carloss said that YouTube has seen success with its “channelization” reaching niche audiences such as the geek community or those looking for bilingual programming in Spanish and English.
“Our focus is very much on great channels,” Carloss said. “We can provide creative freedom for content creators and there are choices for people to find [content] anywhere at any time. These are great opportunities for brands to find their audiences.”
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