South Africa’s local MSN venture is the latest publisher to try mining the web’s love for celeb gossip by carving out its celebrity section as a separate website.
Gwyneth Paltrow just became the latest celebrity to toss her cap into the mobile app market. GOOP, the lifestyle-focused email newsletter run by the Oscar-winning actress, announced on Tuesday the debut of a new iPhone and iPad app called “GOOP City,” which costs $3.99.
If this was a US Weekly article, the headline would read “Stars! They’re just like us! They make web shows!” Speaking at a conference yesterday, Greg Johnson, SVP, ECD and head of digital at William Morris Endeavor, told the crowd to expect more celeb-studded content coming down the digital pike. paidContent reports Johnson as saying:
“Historically, there were huge barriers to actors or artists that wanted to form companies and actually create their own content. But with digital distribution and platforms like Facebook for games, video networks for original series—there’s less of a need for huge investments of capital—so these artists can get into production and be profitable very quickly.”
Hollywood poking its head into the world of web video is nothing new. Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die is basically a repository for celebrity viral videos. Ashton Kutcher is behind Blah Girls. And just this week, Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia’s DiVide Pictures partnered with Generate to create branded entertainment targeting young males.
Why does this matter? Well, if you’re an independent creator, it’s going to become even harder to get sponsorship money to finance your projects. As we wrote last month, advertisers want to put money where they know (or hope, at least) audiences will be. Having a celeb associated with your production is one way to do that.
The influx of Hollywood could mean that homegrown “web stars” truly will be like us. No one will know who they are because viewers are too busy watching Ashton Kutcher’s latest series.
While pop stars’ fortunes these days are heavily dependent on building an online fan base, the reverse is even more true. Social media sites are tripping over themselves to score the one celebrity who will shower them with rabid fans.
I’m surprised to see how often the words “The Jonas Brothers” show up in my inbox. And no, it’s not because I’m signed up for their fan club alerts or anything like that. It’s because these guys are huge. Their magical combination of luscious locks and mediocre crooning have captured the hearts of young ladies everywhere. And outside of their day jobs as Hanson 2.0, they’re also the poster children for any number of social media services.
The first time I heard about the band was last October, when Justin.tv told me the brothers were by far their most popular users, helping the startup to secure venture funding from Alsop Louie. As I noted then: “Up-and-coming band the Jonas Brothers has been the biggest hit to date, with 80,000 uniques and a maximum of 14,000 simultaneous viewers turning in for a live chat last week.”
In the world of box office punditry, people spend a lot of time talking about stars that can “open a movie.” Will Smith’s name on a poster all but guarantees not only a massive opening weekend stateside, it also offers the kind of brand recognition that ensures a film’s long and happy shelf life overseas. Stars of that stature can essentially make (or break) a studio’s entire yearly payroll, which makes them extremely powerful, and they’re compensated accordingly.
As the online video world matures, and the audience’s need to separate the wheat from the proverbial chaff becomes more pressing, we seem to be at the tip of a similar phenomenon. Put simply: brand recognition goes a long way, and the need for familiar names and faces in a world mostly lacking Hollywood’s sophisticated, institutionalized branding means that stars can be anointed very quickly.
Last week’s instant-classic interview with Michael Cera on FunnyOrDie was not nearly as funny or deliriously weird as his authorized but online-only video for Kanye West’s Can’t Tell Me Nothing from last summer, but that hardly matters: Zach Galifianakis has now starred in two major viral video hits in six months.
Read More about Karina’s Capsule: Zach Galifianakis & Web Video Stardom