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Online Video,Social Media

YouTube Stars Launch Their Own Apps

Fan-management startup Victorious, another layer in an increasingly sophisticated ecosystem for digital talent, has arrived in Asia, pitching its services to creators and IP owners that have amassed large audiences on content sharing networks such as Instagram and YouTube.

“We look at any individual or IP owner with a strong fan following,” Victorious VP and MD of International, Tony Zameczkowski, tells Media Business Asia.

“That could be a YouTuber, Instagrammer or Viner, but it could also be an athlete, a mainstream celebrity, a sports team or a TV show.”

The 18-month-old company, which recently opened shop in London and Singapore, launched its first apps in April, developed for two of YouTube’s most popular creators, Ryan Higa and The Young Turks.

Since then, Victorious has mainly created apps for online personalities, including Lindy Tsang (aka Bubzbeauty) from Hong Kong, Chika Yoshida (aka Bilingirl) from Japan and Tree Potatoes (pictured) from Singapore, out of 13 deals so far in APAC.

Globally, it has also enlisted online video aggregators, known in the business as multichannel networks (MCNs), such as AwesomenessTV (majority owned by DreamWorks Animation) and Machinima.

At the same time, the tech company is wooing professional sports, music and entertainment IP owners, having signed up France’s biggest broadcaster TF1, as well as international news broadcaster, Russia Today.

TF1 is planning to launch a series of apps for its most popular presenters, starting with Chris Marques, head judge for its localized version of Dancing With The Stars.

Victorious is also working on two apps for Russia Today.

Fans and superfans

Victorious focuses on people or properties with large, engaged online fanbases, Zameczkowski explains, creating bespoke mobile hubs where they and their most dedicated followers can interact as well as post content.

“Generating a high volume of premium content is time, labor and cost intensive,” he says.

“Victorious makes it easier for creators to publish content and leverage their communities to do the same.”

While there are no upfront or ongoing development costs, Victorious takes an unconfirmed share of revenue, reportedly 30%, from any revenue generated by the app, while also assisting on marketing and audience development.

For the moment, revenue opportunities are restricted to brand integration and related ad deals, but the startup is also working on tools to enable one-off consumer payments as well as regular subscriptions.

Success could mean creators prioritize their own apps as centralized hubs, where they have greater control over the environment and functionality versus third-party platforms.

Nonetheless, larger platforms will still be important as conduits to larger audiences, maintains Zameczkowski, who will be speaking at next month’s Digital Matters conference in Singapore.

“I see this as a complementary to primary platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Vine,” he says.

“These are at the top end of the funnel, targeting the broad fanbase. The app is for the superfans.”

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