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Summary:

What happens when a creator uses a highly-anticipated web series to launch a new website? The creators of Video Game High School found out when the highly-anticipated web series debuted on Rocket Jump — bringing millions of views to a platform they fully controlled.

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For a few years now, creators have relied on portals like YouTube and Blip for both hosting and discovery — but third-party hosting means ceding some amount of control over your content. And as the space evolves, other strategies are beginning to emerge.

When the web series Video Game High School made headlines with the enthusiastic response to its Kickstarter campaign, there was no denying that the scripted comedy fantasy about a school for video game fanatics would find an audience online — especially given that it was co-created by Brandon Laatsch and Freddie Wong, AKA FreddieW, who has built a strong fanbase on YouTube with his blend of comedy, VFX and gaming references.

But Video Game High School wasn’t your ordinary web series release — because it drove the launch of the independent content platform Rocket Jump.

Building upon Wong’s pre-established audience online, and also drawing content from creators like Corridor Digital and Feast of Fiction, Rocket Jump uses a proprietary video player to host content for, according to the site’s About page, “people willing to stand on that razor’s edge of the envelope that gets pushed outside the box.”

Video Game High School was Rocket Jump’s first big release, with episodes released first to the Rocket Jump site, and then, a week later, uploaded to YouTube. And the strategy paid off. Numbers provided to us by the Collective (and independently verified by Visible Measures) showed that the series has so far, between YouTube and Rocket Jump, received 31.5 million views.

And while 24.4 million of those views — approximately two-thirds — came from YouTube, the remaining 6.9 million came from Rocket Jump. Most importantly, episode-to-episode, YouTube viewership remained consistent, but on Rocket Jump, viewership grew as the series progressed — increasing audience throughout the course of the campaign.

“We were able to drive real audience and grow that audience on a proprietary platform — without cannibalizing our YouTube audience. In that case it was a tremendous success,” Dan Weinstein of Collective Digital Studio, which co-produced and co-distributed the series, said via phone.

Rocket Jump, according to Weinstein, isn’t meant to replace the team’s YouTube presence — instead, “It’s about expanding their brand and providing a different level of engagement for their audience.”

But building an independent platform for their content has a number of advantages for the Rocket Jump team. First, it means that unlike YouTube, they have a greater level of control over the advertising appearing with their content: Rocket Jump videos currently include video pre-rolls as well as banner ads.

In addition, the Collective — which represents Rocket Jump in dealings with advertisers and sponsors — has a clearly defined property to offer. “Brands know who Freddie is,” Weinstein said. “Add in Rocket Jump, something [that's] owned 100 percent, and it’s another tool in the arsenal.”

But it’s not just the FreddieW show, either: Like other online video brands built around a central personality, such as Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist empire, Rocket Jump has the potential to grow into something much larger than one person. “It was meant to be bigger than the FreddieW brand,” Weinstein said. “They built it to be bigger than themselves.”

The Rocket Jump strategy wouldn’t necessarily work for anyone, especially the lesser-known independent creator. “It takes a large dedicated fanbase to migrate the experience to an owned and operated website,” Weinstein said. But for the right content, there might be life outside of YouTube.

  1. Elliot Dwennen Sunday, July 29, 2012

    This looks awesome! Thanks for sharing Liz I look forward to checking this out

  2. Educated Chimp Sunday, July 29, 2012

    Just by the looks of the trailer, I can tell this show is going to be a first season flop. The concept of televising dramatic teenage lives from a high school specializing in video games sounds like a VH1 reject.

    The idea of a video game high school would be awesome though, I’m sure there are special art schools out there.

    1. Actually, it was a great first season. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

    2. Sorry but this series is already finished and it was no flop :) There is a second season in production already.

    3. the first season was awesome! try to watch it when you can its worth it!!

    4. ok this may be the most stiupid comment i saw ever this series is better than quite some tvshows

      1. Perhaps English is not your native language, but one should still check his grammar and spelling before calling others “stiupid”. Educated Chimp is obviously educated and was only referring to the trailer. E.C. has not watched the series yet and now might never watch it thanks to your rude comment.

    5. They have already had the first season and it was a great success that was loved by lots of fans and they are already starting production on season 2

    6. 1st Season was great, Ended a few weeks ago, Freddie got Thousands of Subs from, There where only 9 Episodes but everyone who watched it loved it.

    7. Actually, the whole first season has already been released! Each episode got better and better! It was surprisingly well-written! They are beginning screen writing and casting for season two now! Perhaps you are not part of the target demographic, but VGHS was widely accepted by video gaming culture as a strong competitor for web shows like The Guild and Red vs. Blue.

    8. it’s your first day on the internet, isn’t it.

    9. The first season is already done.. and was spectacular!

    10. Actually, the first season has already finished and it was a huge success. The second season is even already being planned

    11. Educated Chimp fails to recognize some important details:

      First season is already over.
      First season was a success.

      … not so educated, are you? You couldn’t take three minutes to Google this.

      I thumb my nose at you.

      1. Bravo good sir…Bravo.

  3. A great way to get publicity.

  4. @Educated Chimp: Perhaps if you watched more than the trailer your guess would be more educated. Get over yourself.

  5. Funny, burst of comments all basically saying the same thing submitted around the same time. Hmm…..where did you all come from?

    1. Facebook :P The official page for this webseries shared a link.

      1. Ah, thanks, I was wondering. I think your message has been delivered.

  6. Spencer Askew Monday, July 30, 2012

    Such a great show! Since watching it I have introduced it to tons of people to positive reviews. Pretty much every week my friends and I re-watch the whole season and often find ourselves quoting it. It’s been a long time since I’ve found a series that I can watch over and over again. True, there are some moments where an additional take or two could have been used to get rid of some of the cheese lines but for the most part it is awesome. I recommend it to everyone who hasn’t seen it.

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