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Thread: TikTok Stars Race to Land Reality Shows

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    TikTok Stars Race to Land Reality Shows

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/s...gtype=Homepage


    Late Monday night, a group of male TikTok stars who belong to the Gen Z influencer collective known as the Sway House charged up the streets of the Hollywood Hills. They were on their way to the Hype House to confront a fellow TikTok star, Chase Hudson, 18, about comments he had made earlier online.

    Some of the most high-profile teenage influencers, including Mr. Hudson, had spent the previous several hours waging war on each other online in an event that became known as ?TikTokalypse.?

    They posted clapbacks on Twitter, stoked controversy on Instagram Live and shared cheating accusations using the Notes app. Top YouTubers like Tana Mongeau poured gasoline on the flames by reacting in real time on TikTok.

    Shortly after the Sway House boys stepped out of their car and paparazzi crowded around, they were ushered into the 14,000-square-foot Hype House mansion and resolved the feud in private. At 1:20 a.m. the TikTok star Jaden Hossler, 19, tweeted: ?we talked. no fighting. it?s settled.?

    The whole event felt ripped from reality TV. Feuds, cliques and rivalries have long captivated viewers of shows like ?Jersey Shore,? ?The Real World? and ?Keeping Up With the Kardashians.?

    Now, many wonder if a new wave of unscripted shows about the lives of young influencers could captivate the next generation of viewers. ?This is a TV series waiting to be made,? Hemanth Kumar, a film critic, tweeted about the events Monday night. ?Who?s calling dibs on this one??

    The Race Is On

    Over the past several months, every major TikTok collective has taken steps to pursue a potential reality show.

    Wheelhouse, a production studio, is working with the Hype House to pitch a reality show billed as ?the modern day Mickey-Mouse club.? The Clubhouse, another Gen Z influencer collective, is working with ICM to shop the idea of a show around, which they hope to produce using an in-house team.

    Clubhouse is also working with the ?Jawline? director Liza Mandelup and Concordia Studio, a production company, on a potential project. The Kids Next Door house has met with production companies.

    Charli D?Amelio, the most-followed influencer on TikTok, and her family are also exploring the possibility of a reality show and have signed a production deal with Industrial Media, the producer of shows like ?American Idol? and ?90 Day Fianc?,? her agent said.

    TalentX, the management company behind the Sway House, said it hasn?t signed a shopping agreement with a production company yet, but has been taking meetings. ?We are having multiple conversations now around town,? said Warren Lentz, the C.E.O. of TalentX. ?It?s clear there?s a strong appetite and there?s white space that a streaming platform or network hasn?t stepped into. We have come up with five or six different show ideas that we?ve been talking with outlets about. I do know other houses are having those conversations as well.?

    The boundaries between the online influencer world and reality TV are porous. Reality stars often amass large audiences on social media and pivot to full-time influencer-dom. And casting directors are known to pluck potential characters from the internet and put them on the big screen.

    Tila Tequila, for instance, was a Myspace star before landing her own show. ?The Amazing Race? and ?Big Brother? have cast famous YouTubers in hopes of tapping into their young and engaged audiences online.

    YouTube itself has greenlit many shows by its homegrown stars through its YouTube Originals program. In James Charles?s ?Instant Influencer,? which premiered earlier this year as a YouTube Original, contestants compete to become the next great beauty vlogger.

    But so far, there hasn?t been a hit reality show centered solely on the lives of a bunch of influencers.

    The show that has come closest is ?Reality House,? a 2019 unscripted series featuring a group of YouTubers living together in a giant house. The YouTubers Kian Lawley and JC Caylen started the show and tried to get it picked up by a TV network or streaming service.

    ?We did take the show out to market but were unsuccessful in selling it,? said Andrew Graham, a talent agent at Creative Artists Agency. Still, it was a hit online. ?Reality House? ran for two seasons, with a third pending, and reached nearly one million views per episode.

    And though the idea of a group of internet-famous young people with big personalities all living together in a Los Angeles mansion may seem like a natural fit for TV, Julie Pizzi, the president of entertainment and development at Bunim Murray, a production studio behind hit shows like ?The Real World? and ?Keeping Up With the Kardashians,? said it?s much more difficult to pull off than one might imagine.

    Ms. Pizzi said Bunim Murray has met with several influencer houses including Hype House, Sway House and Clubhouse. ?The problems we have had is that often these houses are looked at more like a business,? she said. ?They want to show the business of making these videos as opposed to the personalities and personal lives of the characters.?

    ?We?d have a hard time selling a show about these TikTokers doing their videos for TikTok, or getting deals with advertisers,? Ms. Pizzi said. ?We?re more interested in their lifestyle and how they interact with each other, what the relationships are like between the different people in the house.?

    Disparate management and representation is also an issue. In some houses, each influencer has their own separate management team and sometimes different agents. ?Even just for a pitch it?s an enormous amount of legal work. You have to put every single person under contract,? Ms. Pizzi said.

    Age, too, is a hurdle. While scripted shows starring teenagers and young adults like ?Euphoria" and ?13 Reasons Why? are huge successes, unscripted shows featuring a similar age range are less common.

    ?You don?t really want to put very young people in too mature situations,? Ms. Pizzi said. ?It feels a little sensational. It?s very rare to even put an 18-year-old on a dating show.? Bunim Murray has had the most success with programming for Snapchat. ?Endless Summer,? a docudrama series starring the YouTuber Summer Mckeen, for instance, ran for several seasons on Snapchat.

    ?There?s very few homes for a show like this,? Mr. Graham said, referring to an influencer reality show. Though MTV did pick up a show about Ms. Mongeau for its YouTube channel, the company now seems to be ?focused largely on reboots and proven Viacom/CBS talent,? Mr. Graham said.

    ?That?s where you?d think this show would go, but it doesn?t fit their current mandate,? he said. ?You could take a swing at Netflix given that they have a number of unscripted formats that are working there, I?m thinking of ?The Circle.? Maybe there?s a world where you take a shot at a place like Amazon, but I don?t think there are a lot of homes for it.?

    Some influencer collectives are moving forward on their own, storyboarding reality-type shows for social platforms and monetizing them through advertising deals. Henry Coxall, a founder of 404Haven, an influencer house soon to open in the Hollywood Hills, said the company has already hired an in-house production team to create a reality show on Twitch.

    ?We?ve discovered a big part of this online culture is feeling connected,? Mr. Coxall said. ?People want to feel part of that story that?s occurring. We were like, how do we take our influencers? lives and allow fans to get involved on a safe level that our talent feels comfortable with??
    Choose Your Own Adventure

    Many in the online creator space believe we?re only in the early stages of a significant shift in the entertainment landscape, and the first wave of Gen Z talent is just beginning to emerge.

    ?I think we?re going to see this whole field expand over the next year or two, and the rise of TikTok could be that catalyst,? said Avi Gandhi, the executive vice president of digital at Wheelhouse. ?I think the reality is a lot of content buyers and distributors, whether it?s traditional cable, streaming services or digital platforms, are looking to bring audiences their way. And they?re looking for stories from talent who have great audiences.?

    Maxwell Mitcheson, the head of talent at TalentX, said that ?TikTok stars are the Lauren Conrads of their generation. Everything they do, for better or worse, garners traditional media coverage, from liking a shady comment to going to dinner with another creator.?

    Though each of these content houses may be pitching its own show, influencers recognize the value of playing off each other. ?A lot of people peg these houses against each other, but at the end of the day we?re all here to make content for our fans,? said Alex Warren, 19, a member of Hype House.

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    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/s...gtype=Homepage

    Part 2

    Mr. Lentz said that the way teenagers today consume drama is very different than watching a 30-minute linear TV episode.

    “There’s this notion that got famous a few years ago of ‘the second screen,’” he said. “Today, there’s a third or fourth screen based on viewers on phones switching between different apps. They go back and forth between IG Live and TikTok and Twitter accounts, it’s almost like each fan is on their own choose your own adventure. They come up with their own narrative around these characters in each story.”

    In that sense, he said, “Sway House is a TV show in and of itself. Hype House is a TV show in itself. In many ways, fans are already watching the TV show, just not on TV.”

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    https://www.searchenginejournal.com/.../375687/#close

    TikTok is taking the first steps toward paying users for content with the launch of a $200 million “creator fund.”

    The fund will be distributed to US users over the coming year, during which time it is expected to grow to be worth more than $200 million.

    “To further support our creators, we’re launching the TikTok Creator Fund to encourage those who dream of using their voices and creativity to spark inspirational careers.

    The US fund will start with $200 million to help support ambitious creators who are seeking opportunities to foster a livelihood through their innovative content.”

    The TikTok Creator Fund will begin taking applications starting in August.

    TikTok Creator Fund Eligibility Criteria
    In order to be eligible to apply, users must meet this criteria:

    Be at least 18 years old
    Live in the United States
    Meet a baseline for followers
    Consistently post original content that doesn’t violate community guidelines
    The eligibility criteria is relatively vague at this point. Hopefully there’s more clarity when the applications open next month.


    For instance, there’s not even a hint at what’s considered a “baseline” for followers.

    There’s also no indication of what posting “consistently” means, or how original the content needs to be.

    Much of the viral content on TikTok contains licensed music or copyrighted voice clips.

    Would that content not be considered original even though it represents most of what gets published to TikTok?

    To that end the most important question yet to be answered is: what kind of content is TikTok looking to fund?

    Other than meeting eligibility criteria, it’s not known how TikTok will decide to fund one creator over another.

    From the sounds of it, TikTok is looking to fund ambitious creators who put time and effort into fostering an engaged community with regular uploads.

    “Through the TikTok Creator Fund, our creators will be able to realize additional earnings that help reward the care and dedication they put into creatively connecting with an audience that’s inspired by their ideas.”


    Again, it can only be presumed that more information will be made available when applications open.

    Additional Efforts to Fund Creators
    TikTok highlights additional efforts it has made to support users through monetary opportunities, such as:

    Creative Learning Fund: A $50 million fund that introduces emerging teachers to the platform.
    TikTok Live Streams: This creates earnings opportunities for hundreds of thousands of US creators who host live streams and receive money from their audience.
    TikTok Creator Marketplace: Helps brands discover and partner with innovative creators to collaborate on paid campaigns.
    “In a relatively short time, TikTok has grown to become a source of income and opportunity for creators and their families – and we couldn’t be more encouraged by their success.”

    It can be argued that TikTok is not doing as much to fund US creators as it could be.

    Although it’s the fastest growing social network in the US, TikTok has been comparatively slow to introduce ways for creators to monetize their content.

    The Creator Fund may be a step in the right direction. Time will tell how many users get accepted and what the payouts are like.

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