As online video continues to grow by leaps and bounds, the networks continue to navel gaze looking for ways to hold on to their dying business model, the TV 2.0 revolution is being led by niche content producers like Michael "Buck Hollywood" Buckley.
Michael Buckley is the star of "What the Buck Show" a show that he writes, produces and distributes on YouTube. Before you dismiss Michael's show as mere UGC YouTube drivel, consider this: What the Buck Show has over 600,930 subscribers (one of the most subscribed channels of ALL TIME), 180 million views and is the top rated entertainment show on all of YouTube.
In December of 2008, he was featured on the front page of the New York Times and he has appeared on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, FoxNews, the CW, BloombergTV, and E! Each episode of “What the Buck?” is viewed an average of 200,000 times and the more popular ones have reached up to three million views. Not to mention the 250,000+ Twitter followers!
What's the secret of his success? Hard work, a loyal fan base, deep engagement with his viewer community, willingness to give back to the YouTube community, and a deep understanding of how viewers consume media.
- Community: Odds are that, unless I'm part of a studio audience, I won't have an opportunity to interact with Jay Leno, David Letterman or Conan O'Brien. However, a fan of What The Buck can interact with Michael via Twitter, YouTube, his live show on BlogTV or even email. Not only does he banter with his audience across all US time zones, he also interacts with his fans in the UK as well. When does this guy sleep?
- Snack Size Snippets: Michael produces content that is quick and easy to view. Unlike broadcast and cable TV, viewers don't have to dedicate a hour to watch an entire show. They can watch an entire episode in 4 or 5 minutes. And since Michael is able to produce new episodes at a moments notice, his content is current, fresh and relevant to viewers.
- Call to Action: There is nothing passive about an episode of What the Buck. Whether it's subscribing to his show, asking for their video responses to his show, or asking what they think--Michael is constantly asking for his audience to be involved in the creation of the show. This provides both user retention and engagement, but also makes viewers feel like they have a stake in the success of the show.
- Get Real: One of the things that makes Michael so popular is that, unlike network shows or 'traditional media' outlets, Michael will call it as he sees it. Miley on a pole at the Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards? Michael is the first one to go all What the Buck! and call her out on her inappropriate behavior. Michael says what most people are thinking, and his authenticity is a great hook to keeping the audience engaged and coming back for more.
The future of TV might not be online video or UGC, but indie digital content producers like Michael Buckley have used free tools like YouTube, hard work and raw talent to create both buzz and an audience hungry for his content, leaving fans shouting "I had to have it!"
Game on TV. Game on.