Back in 2013, the online media streaming craze began. People around the world began catching up on their shows through streaming services. The nostalgic went back many years and the term “binge watching” came to be as we watched beloved shows and movies from the past. Services such as Netflix and Hulu have racked in millions in the past year alone as subscribers pay monthly to enjoy their streaming. Due to the high success in such a short time, many other companies have tried to jump on the bandwagon. Among these was Amazon’s Prime TV for members of Amazon Prime to enjoy streaming of select shows and movies as well as Amazon-made content. Now, more notable contributions to the streaming world have been introduced.
In late 2015, Verizon announced the launch of what they call a “mobile-first video service”. The streaming service, named Go90, features original content, some exclusive productions from DreamWorks Animation, and a feature called “cuts,” which allows app-users to snip a clip from a video on Go90 and transmit it to friends. Verizon knows millennials like to share that way. The service, in partnership with YouTube, Awesomeness TV, and other companies, is free and available for download in the App store as well as on Google Play.
Verizon made it abundantly clear that this market holds a massive number of millennials, which are the exact audience the company is after. “We’re always skating to wherever the puck is going,” CEO Lowell McAdam told attendees at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia media conference in September 2015. Originally, the service seemed to be an unscripted version of YouTube, only bringing in those on the younger side of the spectrum looking for more content from their favorite creators. It wasn’t until this year that the announcement of a new show featuring some well-known actors spread across social media, and Go90 caught the attention of the masses.
T@gged is Go90’s scripted series that managed to bring in a sizable audience to the platform. It reaches the social media world by using well-known YouTube stars like Lia Marie Johnson, Claudia Sulewski, and JC Caylen, each using their massive online following to begin a career in acting.
The series follows stars Lulu Antariksa as Rowan, Katelyn Nacon as Elisia, and Johnson as Hailey after they have all been mysteriously tagged in a violent video online. As they battle stereotypical high school tribulations, each girl has her own dark secret that she doesn’t want getting out. They face multiple dangerous situations at the hands of the unknown user and antagonist “Monkeyman”, whom they must unmask before times runs out, not only save their secrets but quite possibly their lives.
The show has taken the plot concept of phone harassment that became popular from series like Pretty Little Liars and turned it into its own success story. While initial reviews seemed like a hard sell, in my opinion, T@gged is a great series to binge. It builds suspense without being cheesy or predictable. Viewers may go in with doubts and presumptions that it’ll be too similar to other series, but this show stands on its own. The season finale left me on my toes and ready for a new season to come. I would highly recommend this show as a quick binge to supply you with a good amount of drama, suspense, and action.
The idea of YouTube Red, yet another premium media viewing service, didn’t seem that promising. For $9.99 users pay for uninterrupted music, no ads, offline videos, and original shows. The unending ads YouTube showed promoting this service never pushed me to subscribe because I didn’t see much of a point. Then, commercials were released for their new feature film, and it highly peaked my interest. The movie is the first of its kind to be feature length and it was set only to be viewed through a single internet service. It was a bit odd that I couldn’t see a review for the movie because it was only on one platform that few people were using. That fact interested me even more, it felt like I would have exclusive content at my disposal.
The Thinning places the viewer in a future in which the planet is in grave danger. Global warming has gotten the best of us and severely decreased the Earth’s land masses. Now, all countries must deduct their population by 5% annually to sustain the rest of humanity. In true American fashion, our country comes to this decision using the beloved standardized test, but now failure doesn’t result in getting held back. It results in death.
The story mixes the morbid annual competition for survival of The Hunger Games with the technologically advanced testing system of Divergent. Not only does this bring in a bigger audience pool but notable faces like Disney stars Peyton List and Calum Worthy, as well as internet and Vine personalities Lia Marie Johnson and Logan Paul, help drag in demographics from all fields of the web.
In terms of YouTube’s first full-length feature film, I feel the movie went well. While it’s no blockbuster chart-topper, it would be able to hold its own with made-for-TV movies like Sharknado. The only real criticism I have is that the film didn’t allow for much character or story build-up. We were simply introduced to our two main characters and before we knew it we were faced with the anticipation and suspense of the first exam.
I can’t say that YouTube movies are the next thing because let’s face it, for the same price Netflix and other streaming services has a far superior service that offers original, consistent content. But, if YouTube continues to make content at this caliber and continues to improve, it could compete with other services.