Service appears to have been restored after about a half-hour period during which visitors to the popular video site found a “500 Internal Service Error” headline followed by text that said: “Sorry, something went wrong. A team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with the situation.” No word yet on what happened. Here’s the statement from a YouTube spokesperson: “Some people encountered errors, or a slower than normal experience on YouTube today. We worked quickly to address the issue and fixed the problem. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this caused.”
Popular YouTube personality Shane Dawson is bringing his brand to television. NBC has put in development Losin’ It, a single-camera comedy from Dawson, The Big C creator Darlene Hunt and producer Will Gluck. The workplace comedy, based on Dawson’s real-life experiences, is set at a suburban weight loss center franchise that gets thrown into upheaval when its most successful client decides to share his inspiration by becoming a consultant there, only to then find himself promoted to manager by the end of his first day. Hunt will write from a story she co-penned with Dawson and his producing partner Lauren Schnipper. Hunt, Dawson, Gluck and Richie Schwartz executive produce, with Schnipper producing. The project hails from Sony TV, where Gluck’s Olive Bridge and Hunt are under deals. 25-year-old Dawson, one of YouTube’s most popular stars, with over 9 million subscribers across three channels, was working at weight-loss company Jenny Craig, along with his mother and brother, when he launched his first YouTube channel in 2008. But soon thereafter he uploaded a pole-dancing video shot in the office and immediately was fired, along with his mother, brother and several other co-workers who appeared in the video. Dawson also has a successful personal weight loss story, having shed 150 pounds after a rough childhood marked by domestic abuse and school bullying. (Watch Dawson’s latest music parody after the jump.)
Related: UTA Signs YouTube Star Shane Dawson
Kim Kardashian & Kanye West Sue YouTube Co-Founder Over Proposal Footage Intended For E! Reality Series
So for once a Kardashian doesn’t want some video of herself out there – at least not yet. Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ Kim and hubby-to be Kanye West today filed a complaint in LA Superior Court against YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley for filming the rapper’s October 21 marriage proposal to the E! star and putting it online. The breach of contract, fraud and unjust enrichment filing (read it here) seeks a jury trial as well as unspecified damages galore and gate crasher Hurley handing over any profits he might have made from putting the proposal at San Fran’s AT&T Park up on his new Mixbit site. It seems the duo didn’t want anyone but their own crews filming anything because the footage of the event was intended for M Cable Television, an offshoot of Keeping producers Bunim/Murray and E! – which means you likely would be seeing it soonish on the long running reality series.
“Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are entertainers. Entertainers get paid for their work,” says the complaint, at least telling us Kim’s real status. Slagged as a tech one-hit wonder in the complaint, Hurley actually did sign a confidentially agreement when he tagged along to the invite only event with a friend. There’s a pic of him with it in the filing. …
The second season will begin on October 17. It’s noteworthy after the initial 11 episodes last year became stand-out performers for YouTube, where it’s often hard to separate hits from shows that are merely supported by hype. The series attracted more than 32M views and won the Shorty Award for Best Web Show of 2013. Bravest Warriors is created by Pendelton Ward and is the flagship series for Frederator Studios, led by animation veteran Fred Seibert whose executive producer credits include Adventure Time, The Fairly OddParents, The Powerpuff Girls, and Dexter’s Laboratory. He launched Cartoon Hangover — part of his Channel Frederator multichannel network — in late 2012 and since then it has generated more than 13M unique viewers and 55M+ views. Seibert says that the Internet “is ushering in the next golden age of animation” and his channel will “give tomorrow’s hitmakers a platform to show their creations to big audiences.”
FremantleMedia and Simon Cowell and Sony’s Syco Entertainment are launching one-stop-shop YouTube channels for the Got Talent and X Factor franchises. Although the various versions around the world — 55 for Got Talent and 25 for X Factor — have their own dedicated channels, the new outlets will draw fans to a single destination for the first time. That’s eyed as a big opportunity for brands to target a massive worldwide audience in one place. Each channel will curate viral clips from the local shows, which Fremantle and Syco say number in the billions of views per year. The companies will also produce original content including spinoffs and roundups. Here’s a teaser:
The lives of producers tasked with finding fluffy upbeat videos to sprinkle into TV newscasts has become a living hell since Jimmy Kimmel punked a whole industry with his Twerk Fail YouTube prank. That’s particularly true for those working under the watchful eye of Matt “Disappointed By The Laziness Of The Media” Lauer at the Today show. This morning, Today dove into the ratings catnip that is Jason Mortensen – star of a funny YouTube video that has nearly as many views as had Kimmel’s funny Twerk Fail before Kimmel revealed it was a prank – 6 million and growing in just one week. In the video, Mortensen is seen allegedly coming out from under anesthesia after surgery, being fed crackers by some very pretty woman who, he discovers, is his wife of several years, which causes him to exclaim, “I hit the jackpot!” and note she has perfect teeth. He withholds judgment on her twerkside, requesting she turn around, but she politely declines — because, of course, she’s documenting their whole renewed acquaintance to post on YouTube, “so he can see how he acts, and so I can show people,” she explained sweetly to the Today on-air panel of non-lazy journalists.
Controversy over a comedy short helped Russell Simmons launch his new YouTube channel All Def Digital yesterday. But a firestorm of complaints over Harriet Tubman Sex Tape, in which the abolitionist has sex with her master in order to blackmail him into creating the Underground Railroad, led Simmons to pull the video today and issue an apology. “In the whole history of Def Comedy Jam, I’ve never taken down a controversial comedian,” said Simmons in a statement. “When my buddies from the NAACP called and asked me to take down the Harriet Tubman video from the All Def Digital YouTube channel and apologize, I agreed.”
“I’m a very liberal person with thick skin,” he continues. “My first impression of the Harriet Tubman piece was that it was about what one of actors said in the video, that 162 years later, there’s still tremendous injustice. And with Harriet Tubman outwitting the slave master? I thought it was politically correct. Silly me. I can now understand why so many people are upset. I have taken down the video. Lastly, I would never condone violence against women in any form, and for all of those I offended, I am sincerely sorry.”
YouTube was designed to make it easy for people to share videos, but its co-founder Chad Hurley tells me that “we were never able to provide tools for people to create better content.” He and fellow co-founder Steve Chen, who now run a company called AVOS Systems, hope to fix that beginning today with the launch of MixBit. They’re offering a free mobile phone app (initially for iPhones, one for Android coming soon). It enables users to shoot 16-second clips and then drag and drop as many as 256 of them into a sequence to create a video lasting up to an hour, which can then be published. The goal is to make it simple. Unlike Vine and Instagram, MixBit won’t offer filters or effects, and it only uses audio recorded by the phone. Users also can edit videos at a web site, MixBit.com, and share clips with others or keep the whole thing private. Hurley says that “at some point” MixBit will have ads but for now “we really are focused on the community and solutions and don’t want to introduce things that alienate the reasons why people are participating.” He has spoken to “a few friends in the movie industry and they’re definitely intrigued” by the story-telling platform. AVOS is backed by Google Ventures, Innovation Works, Madrone Capital and New Enterprise Associates.
UPDATED, 11:14 PM: YouTube today dismissed the support that IATSE, the DGA, AFM and SAG-AFTRA has shown for Viacom’s efforts to get another day in court with its $1 billion copyright infringement suit. Not only does the Google-owned company say in a statement that the unions’ brief “recycles” a previous filing from 2010 in the suit but that they “don’t seem to have followed developments in the case.” Read the statement YouTube issued via a spokesperson late Monday below:
The brief filed by entertainment industry unions recycles their brief from the first appeal in 2010. They don’t seem to have followed developments in the case or recognized the changes to YouTube’s place in the entertainment ecosystem. The Court has twice rejected Viacom’s unfounded copyright infringement claims. And even Viacom has conceded it doesn’t object to how YouTube has operated for the last five years. YouTube has signed licensing agreements with every major movie studio and record label, has developed an industry-leading Content Identification system used by 4,000 media partners, and does more to prevent piracy than any other major video hosting provider.
PREVIOUSLY, 6:33 PM: Despite another recent court loss, Viacom’s latest attempt to revive its billion-dollar copyright suit against YouTube has just gotten some very vocal support again from some old friends. “YouTube’s role in the rampant, systematic distribution of content in violation of the exclusive rights of copyright holders caused and continues to cause harm to the entertainment industries and the members of the Guilds and Unions working in those industries,” said a joint brief filed late last week by lawyers for the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the American Federation of Musicians. “We urge the Court to consider the full ramifications of YouTube’s actions, and request that the Court reverse the lower court’s decision.” The unions offered similar such support as they did last week back in 2010. Filed on August 2 this year, the quartet’s new 28-page brief (read it here) comes after Viacom filed materials on July 30 with the 2nd Court of Appeals asking for a new judge in the long-running case. That expected legal move against Judge Louis Stanton followed the NY-based U.S. District Court judge granting YouTube yet another favorable summary judgment in the matter on April 18. That was the second such decision for the Google-owned entity in the case. Viacom first launched the $1B action in 2007.
If you’re interested in YouTube, then check out Fortune’s new cover story — titled “How YouTube Changes Everything” (goes online today and hits newsstands Monday) – and stick with it to the end. The most intriguing, and critical, observations are buried. “Even as YouTube explodes in popularity, making money in its world remains a challenge for all but Google itself,” writer Miguel Helft says deep into his piece. One entrepreneur, Jason Calacanis, observes that while YouTube is “amazing for marketers, individuals and companies seeking to reach a large audience,” the business itself is “a trap.” He raises some common complaints: YouTube’s 45% slice of the ad sales pie is too big. It fails to provide enough marketing support. And YouTube, not individual producers, controls the relationships with viewers. Google shouldn’t complain, though. The criticisms are after-thoughts in largely flattering profile that confirms DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg’s observation that “this thing is like a rocket ship.” YouTube’s viewership is up 50% over the last 12 months. Barclays estimates that it’s worth as much as $21B — not bad for an asset that Google bought in 2006 for $1.65B. Although YouTube “is not about to kill off television,” the story …
This may be the biggest surprise for Hollywood in Google‘s event today to unveil new products and software. The two-inch long Chromecast plugs into a TV set HDMI port, enabling users to watch videos from YouTube, Google Play, and Netflix and handle music and photos. (A Pandora app is on the way.) If it works as promoted, it would offer people an easy way to watch Web videos on TV without having to connect a box such as a game console, Blu-ray player, or Roku. Chromecast also comes with a three-month free trial to Netflix. With its small size the Chromecast “simply disappears behind your TV,” Google’s Rishi Chandra says. The device connects with the home Wi-Fi network, so you don’t need to tie up a computer, mobile phone or tablet. “We bring the highest resolution directly from the cloud instead of relying on your device to push the content,” Chandra says. But you can also use those devices to serve as remote controls, for example to pause the video or adjust the volume — which you can do without unlocking. And it will work with other companies’ devices, including Apple iPhones. “YouTube on TV becomes simple and intuitive,” the exec says. Google hopes that at the $35 price people will buy a Chromecast for each TV set. The company says the device will be available today on Amazon, BestBuy.com and Google Play, and will hit Best Buy …
Popular YouTube comedian Shane Dawson has signed with UTA for representation in all areas. Dawson, who was at WME, boasts almost 9 million subscribers and over 1.5 billion views across his three channels that are part of Fullscreen’s Multi-channel network. Dawson, a Teen Choice and Streamy Award winner, began posting his sketch comedy, music video parody, and pop culture-riffing videos in 2006, and has been producing daily clips ever since. (watch one below) He also has released four music singles that have reached the Top 20 on iTunes, and recently launched a new podcast with his producing partner, Lauren Schnipper, Shane and Friends, which hit #1 on iTunes within 24 hours. Dawson is reppped by attorney Matt Saver, while Schnipper is repped by Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. Dawson is the latest YouTube star to sign with UTA, joining iJustine, Jimmy Tatro (Life According to Jimmy) and Bethany Mota (a.k.a. MacBarbie07).
CNBC looked like a sore loser this week when it told YouTube to take down on “copyright grounds” videos from a Squawk Box interview with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). She was on to defend the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, which would tighten regulations on banks, that she’s co-sponsoring with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and others. She forcefully, and gleefully, swatted away challenges from CNBC’s Brian Sullivan, Joe Kernan, and Amanda Drury. A clip went viral — with more than 700,000 views — after it was posted by video aggregator Upworthy as well as on Warren’s YouTube site. “It’s maybe the best example of the sort of matter-anti-matter reaction that happens when someone who actually knows some history and policy makes first contact with a gaggle of ignorant CNBC yakkers,” Talking Point Memo‘s Josh Marshall wrote. Columbia Journalism Review‘s Ryan Chittum called it “a TKO for Warren.” No wonder NBCUniversal’s copyright order smelled fishy.
YouTube‘s paid content slate is getting an infusion of classic miniseries and made-for-TV films via Sonar Entertainment, which today launched new subscription channel MINIS + MOVIES. Popular small screen properties like 1989′s Emmy-winning Lonesome Dove starring Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall lead Sonar’s catalogue of over 500 titles viewable on the online video site starting today. The dense Sonar library is also packed with retro telefilm gems from the filmographies of Hollywood’s brightest, like Jennifer Garner’s 1999 disaster pic Aftershock: Earthquake in New York and the 1997 sorority thriller Dying to Belong with Hilary Swank, with new titles added each month. Also included in the channel’s initial launch are Merlin with Sam Neill and Isabella Rossellini, Tin Man with Zooey Deschanel, Good Fences with Danny Glover and Whoopi Goldberg, The Yearling with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and True Women with Angelina Jolie. Users can subscribe for $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year.
Google has been investing even more in the future of its $1.6B acquisition YouTube, which is ramping up original content and recently launched a raft of paid subscription channels. The company has poured unspecified millions into a revved up 41,000 square foot production studio the size of a hangar in West Los Angeles dubbed YouTube Space LA, reports FT. There, studio space, greenscreen, and editing equipment is available for use for free to elite YouTube content creators and channel operators who can also improve their skills at Space-hosted workshops. Google’s got a reported 11-year lease on the grounds which is already in use by many of the video site’s original content makers.
The $36M deal gives Europe’s largest commercial broadcaster a 51% stake in BroadbandTV — and a small hedge against the softening overseas ad sales that contributed to the 18.9% drop in RTL Group shares so far this year on the Frankfurt exchange. RTL Group says that the acquisition is “part of a planned series of investments” in BroadbandTV and “creates a new platform for RTL Group’s digital strategy.” Vancouver-based BroadbandTV is the fifth-largest provider of YouTube videos and will continue to be run by its charismatic Iran-born founder Shahrzad Rafati. The companies “have defined an ambitious growth plan fueled by investments in technology, advertising sales, content, international expansion and talent,” she says. The alliance “will enable content owners and creators across the globe to achieve their ambitious goals, which is one of the key reasons for BroadbandTV’s existence.”
Fox announced today that the most popular drama on the WIGS slate, the Julia Stiles-starring Blue, is available on Hulu and its subscription service Hulu Plus beginning today in TV-length episodes. In the near future fellow WIGS series Lauren, starring Troian Bellisario and Jennifer Beals, and Jan, starring Caitlin Gerard, Stephen Moyer and Virgina Madsen, will become available. The expansion of the scripted drama series is part of Fox’s multi-year programming, marketing and distribution partnership with WIGS inked in February, with an eye toward building digital content that can be programmed on Fox and/or other channels. Blue, written and directed by WIGS co-founder Rodrigo Garcia, recently passed 20 million views on YouTube. It stars Stiles as a single mom trying to protect her son from the consequences of her secret career as an upscale escort. Mark Consuelos, Sarah Paulson and Holly Robinson Peet co-star.
San Francisco, Calif. – Revision3 announced today that it has acquired Internet video icon Philip DeFranco’s portfolio of online video channels and ventures, DeFranco Creative. As part of the acquisition, DeFranco, the wildly popular YouTube host and producer, will himself become part of the Revision3 programming leadership team as Senior Vice President, Phil DeFranco Networks and Merchandise. A voice of a generation and one of the largest producers of Revision3 content, DeFranco is the force behind such popular shows and channels as The Philip DeFranco Show, SourceFed and The Vloggity. Today’s announcement comes as Discovery Communications just finished celebrating the one-year anniversary of its acquisition of Revision3 with record audience and stream growth and demonstrates the company’s ability to attract and develop the Internet’s top talents.
The channel’s called AwesomenessX and it will offer “original sports, gaming, comedy, pranks and lifestyle content” for males in their teens and 20s, says the company that’s owned by DreamWorks Animation. As the Web destination grows it can “segment our audience so we can better target the programming and build communities around specific interest areas,” says its CEO Brian Robbins. The new channel will pick up some series from AwesomenessTV including The City – Basketball, Sk8 Spotterz, Blow Up Guys, That Was Awesome and How To Be Awesome. It will also launch new series including one that follows Winter X-Games gold medalist David Wise. Another will track “the first Chinese skaters and their friends as they begin to open the minds of the Chinese people to a sport that has always been looked down upon.” Other shows will offer videos of the best game moves and photo shoots of swimsuit models. There’s also The Frank Dog (a dog that “breaks down the latest viral video, with a special dark place just for those adorable cat clips”), Baby Gaga (a talking baby that “will break down his favorite baby videos from around the web and also give his hilarious opinion on what is really going on”) and Fingerlings (where finger puppets poke fun at “current pop culture moments”).