Ray William Johnson Leads Facebook’s Plans to Conquer YouTube & TV

/ Dec 16, 2013

RWJ

Given Ray William Johnson’s undeniable presence on YouTube, it came as a surprise that the creator chose to release “Riley Rewind,” a five-part web series from his production company Runaway Machine, on Facebook first. According to Johnson, the pre-YouTube launch was part of a deal that he and Facebook had worked out to run the series exclusively on the social media platform for one day.

Although it may seem like Johnson was driven to post on Facebook solely by virtue of a nice paycheck, which he was surely given for the first rights, looking at the creators enigmatic and troubled history with YouTube as a brand, a Facebook-first approach could be easily justified.

First, let’s look at what Johnson stands to lose by posting on Facebook: “Riley Rewind,” given that it was released in its entirety on Facebook, will most likely be viewed as a whole by Johnson’s core audience. Only one hour after the series was launched, fans of Johnson began piling on the praise. One satisfied viewer writes: “Just finished #rileyrewind and i was super impressed, wasnt expecting as good of a show as it was, a HUGE congratz to anna and ray.”

RWJTweet

With a positive reception and an active and engaging audience, it’s safe to say that a large heft of that demographic will watch on day one. With Facebook not running ads over the videos and Johnson having zero ownership of the platform, he stands to lose a significant chunk of money driven by YouTube pre-roll ad views. If the financial elements were not an immediate factor for Johnson, what was?

As mentioned, Johnson has had an ugly public relationship with YouTube for many years. In a recent episode of his Runaway Thoughts, the creator spoke hotly about YouTube, saying: “If I’m the face of YouTube, then I fucking hope it goes down. Fuck YouTube.”

It’s doubtful that Johnson launched his series on Facebook solely out of spite. However, his troubled relationship with YouTube and his former network Maker Studios could easily have played a part.

Since parting ways with Maker Studios in 2012, Johnson has largely been an independent creator. His legal dispute with the network over his channel’s AdSense accounts seems to have left the creator with feelings of resentment not only for the MCN structure, but also YouTube as a whole.

Back in May, during a Newfronts presentation, video platform Blip announced a partnership with Johnson and Runaway Machine. At the time, it seemed as if Johnson’s general distaste for YouTube would see him spending more time off-platform. However, Johnson’s plans were all but thwarted as Maker Studios, his former network, purchased Blip four months later. While both parties declined to comment as to whether the partnership stood now that Maker owned Blip, it seemed as if Johnson’s time with the video site was over.

With that, it’s unsurprising that Johnson would continue to look beyond YouTube for a potential video partner.

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 9.37.23 AMIn the past, Facebook has made little effort to hide that fact that it wants to break into the space. Earlier last week, the social media company rolled out autoplay functions for videos on its mobile app. It is also rumored that similar functionality will arrive on the browser site sometime in the new year as well. A leaked Facebook pitch deck obtained by TechCrunch stated that the social media platform is gearing up to compete for TV and YouTube ad dollars. The deck claims that Facebook execs will tell advertisers, “Gone are the days when a family gathered around their TV on Sunday night to connect with the outside world,” and “Television is no longer a guaranteed way to reach and engage your target audience.” Additional information from the deck shows that Facebook is seeking video ad budgets of more than $1 million.

Clearly, Facebook is looking to make a massive push towards bringing in video ad clients very soon. Of course, they are going to need to tap into that most-coveted demographic of users first — Millennials.

Although Facebook is still going strong in terms of bringing in a younger audience (83% of 18 to 29-year-old web crawlers use it), a study released by The Future Company shows that teens (12-15-year-olds) are steadily moving from Facebook to YouTube. The reason for this? Well, it’s because of creators like Johnson. According to the study, of 4,014 teens surveyed, around 50% of them counted YouTube as their favorite site. By bringing over teen-drawing powerhouses like Johnson first, Facebook could potentially bring the majority of young people back to the fold.

Regardless of his motives, Johnson seems to have a relative hit on his hands with “Riley Rewind.” Although the numbers are harder to lock down on Facebook, the entire five-part series, since being uploaded yesterday, has received over 66,000 “Likes.” By any metric, that bodes well for both Facebook and its YouTuber talent integration.

Tags: , , , , ,


YouTube #Brandcast Lilly Singh

YouTube’s #Brandcast Wows ‘Em with Big Bird,...

 
CNN Great Big Story

CNN Makes Great Big Story Bigger at NewFronts

 
Time Inc. Video Logo

Time Inc. Shoots Long with Kobe, OTT Service and Life VR at NewFronts

 
Seeso_Logo_VideoInk_300x250

“Debate Wars” With Michael Ian Black Gets Greenlight...

 
Industry Tickets Selling Fast!
Click above to lock in your registration for VidCon 2015!
 
MHzChoice_VideoInk_300x250

International Distributor MHz Debuts New Subscription Service...

 
IndigenousMedia_VideoInk_300x250

Indigenous Media Horror Thriller ‘Sickhouse’ Sees...

 
EllenDegeneres_VideoInk_300x250

Tyler Oakley and Ellen Ink Development Deal for Newly-Launched...

 
Vice News Canada

Vice and ESPN Team for Cross-Platform Content Play

 
Scott_Iason_Videoink_300x250

Digital Dealmakers: Scott Iason is Knee Deep in Deals for CAA

 
Defy Media

Defy Media Delivers Hard Truths with Hard Sell at NewFronts

 
Seriously_RatedRed_VideoInk_300x250

EXCLUSIVE: Hearst and Verizon Unveil Strategy and Team for...

 
netflixjapan

Digital Dealmakers: Erik Barmack — The Man Bridging Borders

 
Vimeo

Digital Dealmakers: Sam Toles Dishes Wisdom on Video Business

 
astronauts-wanted-timothy-delaghetto-underbelly

Astronauts Wanted Launching Slate of 8 New Shows

 
RecordedandDrawn_VideoInk_300x250

Gunpowder & Sky Set to Develop Animated Series ‘Drawn...

 
Seeso_Logo_VideoInk_300x250

Seeso Announces Seven New Series Set for Summer Slate

 
Joel McHale Yahoo NewFronts

NewFronts in Rearview Tell Us Don’t Believe the Hype

 
Vimeo

Vimeo Acquires OTT Platform VHX

 
DCNF2016_VideoInk_300x250

The Newfronts Have Deviated from Original Mission, Marking Weird...

 
Meg DeAngelis

How Meg DeAngelis’ ‘It’s a Girl Thing’...

 
AlecShankman_VideoInk_300x250

Digital Dealmakers: Alec Shankman – Shaping the Then, and...

 
Digital video industry news today

News to Know: theAmplify Acquired, Hulu Orders...

 
Allen_Debevoise_300x250_VideoInk

Power Sixer: Allen DeBevoise Continues to Push Third Wave of Media

 
Webby Awards took place last night!

Five Branded Content Takeaways From the Webby Winners

 
YouTube Money

YouTube Cries Uncle: Videos Will Earn Revenue While Content ID...

 
Jonathan Skogmo, Jukin Media

Power Sixer: Meet Jonathan Skogmo, Jukin Media’s King of...

 
DreamWorks Animation

Controlling Interest in AwesomenessTV in NBCUniversal’s...

 
Wet Hot American Summer Netflix

Netflix Orders More ‘Wet Hot American Summer’

 
Judy McGrath Astronauts Wanted

Power Sixer: Meet Judy McGrath, Astronauts Wanted’s Lead...

 
Amina_Canter_VideoInk_300x250

Digital Dealmaker Amina Canter Is Bringing Traditional Chops to...

 
Studio71 Paramount

Digital Influencer Features Make the Majors with...

 
JC_Cangilla_VideoInk_300x250

Who’s the Man Behind Newform Digital’s Many Deals?...

 
Machinima hired James Glasscock as SVP of Strategy and Business Development

Questions & Answers with 2016 Digital Dealmaker James Glasscock

 
Univision Creator Network

Univision Creator Network Now Has Beauty and Fashion Vertical

 
Flula Borg

YouTube Music Star Flula Borg Signs with Studio71

 
Susanne Daniels

Power Sixer: Meet Susanne Daniels, the Force Behind YouTube Originals

 
JimmyMaymann

Power Sixer: Meet AOL’s Global Kingpin Jimmy Maymann

 
Dealmakers2016_600x250

Introducing the 2016 Digital Dealmakers

 
kendall_rhodes01

Dealmakers 2016: Kendall Rhodes from Untitled Entertainment

 
PowerSixer2016

Introducing the 2016 Power Sixers!