Scare Pewdiepie: The Face of YouTube Red
Can YouTube's biggest star get people to pay for YouTube?
I am what you would call a “cord cutter,” so when I get home, I binge watch Netflix shows instead of watching whatever is on TV nowadays. That being said, I figured I would give YouTube’s subscription service a try and watch some of their newly released original content. For those that don’t know, YouTube introduced its subscription service called YouTube Red for $10 a month which gets you access to premium content, removes all ads, allows you to download videos for offline viewing, and throws in Google’s music service as well. It’s honestly a decent bargain when marketed as a Spotify competitor with the added bonus of removing ads on YouTube. This past week the first round of “YouTube Original” content hit which features Scare Pewdiepie, the Rooster Teeth movie “Lazer Team,” “A Trip to Unicorn Island,” and “Dance Camp.” As of writing this I have only watched “Lazer Team” and “Scare Pewdiepie,” the former of which I backed on Kickstarter and is not exclusive to YouTube Red.
I am a fan of Rooster Teeth and their work, and while I don’t watch Pewdiepie’s “Let’s Play” videos, I do watch other YouTubers with a similar format to Pewdiepie. As you can guess being someone who writes a weekly article about video games, I like video games a lot. That said, these two things are not worth the admission price. Like I said, there is value outside the YouTube Originals, but I would say if you’re a fan of Rooster Teeth it is better to buy a copy of “Lazer Team” since it’s a really niche movie filled with inside jokes.
As for my very short review of Scare Pewdiepie, I really don’t know who it’s for besides diehard Pewdiepie fans. Pewdiepie, for those unaware, is a YouTuber by the name of Felix Kjellberg who also happens to own the most subscribed channel on YouTube at a whopping 42,285,901 subscribers as of writing this. At worst, his videos only get a million views, which is nuts. His videos consist of him playing video games, getting scared and/or doing dumb things in video games. Rinse, repeat, profit. I have a high regard for Felix as he is a highly successful content creator who is also a very charitable man. However, I do not watch his Pewdiepie videos because his character is not for me.
“Scare Pewdiepie,” which is developed by the creator and executive producer of “The Walking Dead,” involves putting Pewdiepie in these real life scenarios based on the video games he plays. The episodes are heavily scripted but I would assume his reactions are genuine. I watched three episodes: episode one, two, and seven because episode seven is free and available to all YouTube users regardless of subscription access. The scenarios that Pewdiepie gets put into are actually interesting, and are sort of a marvel to see the complexity watching all these extras shamble around an abandoned hospital. Felix is very charismatic, but this is clearly for his demographic, which is basically 13 year old boys.
This is my main issue here: right now, Scare Pewdiepie is a perfect way to describe YouTube Red’s content right now, high budget content made by YouTubers for that very narrow viewer base. I can’t speak for the other content like I said and Lazer Team demographic is a bit older than Pewdiepie, but the people that are looking to sign up for Netflix services will not be interested in this content, which is a big problem for YouTube. YouTube in the past has tried pooling their star YouTubers and celebrities together to expand their content out to people who enjoy traditional media, hence why whenever you see a trailer for Scare Pewdiepie it always involves mentioning “The Walking Dead.”
Netflix’s content in contrast is made for the people paying for that subscription. Mature content in a traditional TV/movie format that is focused on the content itself instead of the star power like “Daredevil,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “Jessica Jones” (my favorite). If YouTube wants to succeed in competing with Netflix, they need to find a way to go after the demographic that is willing to pay for premium content focused on the content first. Give us a true reality show with more YouTubers, instead of Scare Pewdiepie. Give us a mature animated series like Legend of Korra and Young Justice. Don’t attach some names to money and hope we’ll pay for it because it’s not going to work.