The Rise of ‘YouTube Nation’

/ Jan 27, 2014

YouTube Nation BTS 1

Behind the scenes with YouTube’s latest bet in original content.

Upon arriving at the offices of “YouTube Nation,” the last thing I expected was to be witness to a robbery. Yet, I was on the premises for no more than 10 minutes before I crossed paths with a crime that could only be described as “positively funky fresh.”

For viewers who have already tuned into “YouTube Nation,” the idea that a little wackiness might be ensuing at their headquarters is probably not a big shock. A quickly developing trademark of the show features host Jacob Soboroff integrating himself into clips and music videos, and on the day I visited production, Jacob was shooting some scenes as a dancing bank robber that truly redefined what it means to hoof it from the law.

youtubenationFor his part, Soboroff, a former “HuffPost Live” personality, seems to have no reservations at cutting loose for the sake of the show, and that attitude is one that prevails across the board at “YouTube Nation.” Executive produced by Steve Woolf and Zadi Diaz, the show (the first daily series produced by DreamWorks Animation and the first daily program to use the YouTube brand) is a frenetic window into the world of YouTube, connecting audiences to a curated “best of the web,” and allowing YouTubers to shine a spotlight on their own.

The show, which, at the time of my visit, is just entering its second week on-air, already runs with an efficient and effervescent energy that in no way indicates its relatively new status. This is owed, in large part, to Woolf and Diaz, who have lived with this project for many months, testing various iterations and concepts to finally deliver something to the YouTube community of which they could all be proud.

“We’ve done a lot of different iterations of the show,” Woolf explains, “We had a bunch of people in to see if they fit as a host. We tried using someone different every day, to see if we could keep it fresh that way. I mean, that’s not all. We tried many different ways of looking at it, including different writing styles, different ways of showcasing the clips we use.  We tried BuzzFeed-style shows where there was nothing but text, and there was no host. We tried all of that stuff to zero-in to the point where it actually felt right.”

Luckily for Woolf, Diaz, and viewers alike, “YouTube Nation” found its face in the energetic and lively Soboroff. The electric host, who formerly worked with “HuffPost Live” and currently also maintains a show on Pivot, connects with his audience, because unlike many on-screen personalities who are mired in traditional television presentation, Soboroff, whose origins are with YouTube, understands what it means to be on the other side of the screen.

“It’s not like I’m a TV host who’s trying to sneak into the YouTube world,” he tells me, “I literally got my start in my career from YouTube in 2006. Because of that, I consider myself a ‘YouTuber’ and part of the community. I never really went the route of the content creator and did my own channel in that way, although I do have my own channel. If you look, starting in October of 2006, you’ll see I was posting silly stuff, as well as content for blogs here in Los Angeles. I hope everyone in the YouTube community knows that’s where I come from.”

YouTube Nation BTS 3Also quick to differentiate the incursion of Hollywood ideals on the YouTube community is Woolf, who adds, “We also want to be extremely mindful of the YouTube creator community. The last thing we want is for them to perceive this as, ‘Oh, just another thing where the Hollywood people come along and try and tell us how to do what we already know how to do.’ We were very conscious about that fact, and wanted to be as respectful and inclusive as possible.”

…and in simply being mindful, the show may have found its greatest triumph.

“YouTube Nation” succeeds because it is committed to, and respects, the content it showcases. But even more so, it is forum that celebrates the world it comes from…a show for YouTube fans made by YouTube fans.

If witnessing Soboroff’s playful morning dance number didn’t cement this fact for me, sitting in on the afternoon pitch meeting run by Diaz more than drove the point home.

“The rats who play Connect Four are cool,” said one team member about a video, “But what about the grizzly bear video?” Meanwhile, another was arguing the merits of a clip that utilized Photoshop, while another still was praising a “Star Wars”-stylized music number. It was a dizzying exchange, with titles going on the board and being struck down just as quickly. The pitch for what videos make each episode is fast, furious, and passionate. But, it’s also extremely fun. I could tell, even in my status as a fly on the wall, that the people gathered in that room loved every second of the process, and it’s that love that makes all the difference in the execution of “YouTube Nation.”

With such prevalent energy all around, one begins to understand that while the show is still in its early days of public consumption, the months of work it took to get there has been fueled by commitment and creativity unparalleled. The fact that it can now be seen by the world it large, it seems, is just the icing on the cake.

“The first moment of the first show going online was really cool,” Soboroff says.
“Working here for months, secretly, and finally being able to let everybody see it, getting those first reactions, it was all about that.”

“Getting to the point where we’re live is simultaneously incredibly relieving, but also horribly anxiety inducing,” Woolf says, with a laugh. “We feel pretty fortunate that it’s been well-received. It has been overwhelmingly positive.”

“It’s awesome,” Soboroff adds. “It’s just cool to finally have somebody other than us to talk to about these shows. And, really, that’s the whole point.”

As expected from all I had seen throughout the day, their enthusiasm was more than infectious, and they left me feeling like we all should be so lucky to be living in a YouTube Nation.

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Plug Pulled on Canadian SVOD Service Shomi


What’s Trending on the Twitter Sale

Machinima Logo

Machinima Teams with SiriusXM for Daily Esports Radio Show


AwesomenessTV, Vice, Complex to Power New HearstLive...

Industry Tickets Selling Fast!
Click above to lock in your registration for VidCon 2015!

VIDEO: ‘Dirty 30’ Confessions with Stars Hart,...


Facebook Says It’s Sorry It Vastly Overestimated Video...


Pilgrim Media Group CEO Craig Piligian (‘The...


Heroes or Rats?: YouTube Unveils New Program for Creators Who...

Vessel says it's doing well in its first month

Why Verizon is Pursuing Vessel, the...


How Canvs Media is Harvesting Emotional Insights on YouTube,...


Marlon Wayans Getting ‘Naked’ for Netflix with Regina Hall


HuffPost RYOT Launching Virtual Reality Comedy Series and News...


YouTube Launches #voteIRL Campaign Targeting Digital-First Generation


How Top YouTubers (incl. Tyler Oakley & Meghan Rienks)...


Charlie Sheen to Star in Crackle Feature ‘Mad Families’


Gunpowder & Sky Buys Distributor FilmBuff As Vision for...


Toy Freaks Top Viewed YouTube Channel in August According to...


Emmy Wrap-Up 2016: Jeffrey Tambor (‘Transparent’)...


Twitter Scores 2.1 Million Viewers for Thursday Night Footall Kickoff


Vloggers Not Unique Snowflakes: 90 Million Flag YouTube Videos...

Mode Media

‘Billion Dollar Startup’ Mode Media Shuts Down


Who Is Winning The Marketing Revolution And Why?


Netflix Orders ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ Series...


What Is ‘Swedish Dicks’ and Who Is Selling It?


How GMC is Using the AOL Series ‘Seamlessly She’...


Liberty Global to Put Netflix on Set-Top Boxes in 30 Countries


Getting to the Spine of VR’s Monetization Challenges with...


Meredith Hosted Its Own “Front” Stacked with 20 New Series


Verizon and Hearst Move and Seriously.TV Under...


Twitter Launches Live Streaming Apps for Amazon Fire, Apple TV...

YouTube Community

YouTube Fights Back Against Social Media Rivals with Community Feature

Casual Hulu

Vimeo Opening Television Store with Lionsgate Content, Launching...

A Perfect Day in LA Tastemade Jaunt VR Virtual Reality

From Donuts to Malibu, Tastemade and Jaunt Get Immersive in...

Defy Media

Defy Media Close $70 Million Series B Funding Round

YouTube Space LA Halloween Set 2016

YouTube Spaces Team with Jason Blum (‘The Purge’)...

Yahoo Esports

‘Yahoo Esports Live’ Serves Up Reeses Puffs with...


Univision and Lionsgate Team for SVOD Movie Service for U.S. Hispanics

People Entertainment Weekly PEN

People/Entertainment Weekly Ad-Supported OTT Service Preps for Launch

George_Kliavkoff Jaunt VR

Jaunt VR Hires Hearst Exec George Kliavkoff as CEO

Making a Murderer Netflix

‘Making a Murderer’ Scores for Netflix at Creative...