Fred Envy Pervasive at LA Conference

Here a Fred, there a Fred, everywhere a Fred-Fred. The specter of 15-year-old Lucas Cruikshank has seemed to haunt NATPE’s LA TV Fest this week, with mentions of his hit web creation, Fred Figglehorn, on many a talk or panel. Here’s our report from the conference hallways.

Whether you’re wearing a suit or jeans, everyone has the same disclaimer about Fred: “Personally, I don’t get it. Maybe I’m just too old.” But then it becomes clear that each and every one of them is in awe and fear of the Fred phenomenon. Cruikshank has created the most-subscribed channel in the history of YouTube (s GOOG) by depicting a chipmunk-voiced 6-year-old with anger management issues.

EQAL’s Greg Goodfried displayed perhaps the most stunning case of Fred envy, talking about his guy-with-a-Flipcam-and-Final-Cut work on the new EQAL project Get Cookin’ with Paula Deen. “Literally we sit around and say, ‘Is this as good as Fred? Does it feel like Fred; is it cut like Fred?'”

Until he can hit 6 million views per episode on a regular basis like Cruikshank does, he’s got to respect Fred’s low, in-your-face production values, said Goodfried.

Other Fred comments have been similarly worshipful, though they concerned how much money exactly Cruikshank is making, and how he sets audience expectations by releasing every Thursday.

The other single anecdote that’s had new media tongues wagging like crazy at the conference came from SVP of Bravo Digital Media Lisa Hsia. On the same panel as Goodfried, she described a recent mobile series Bravo had commissioned. Bravo paid $2,500 for 14 episodes of the unspecified series.

“I’m not sure the producer made any money on it,” said Hsia, pointing out that the producer must have been OK with the deal since he or she did sign the contract. “You’re not going to make much money as a producer of webisode series for Bravo,” she said.

Online video makers in the hallways and at our meetup said they were mighty disheartened by both Goodfried and Hsia’s comments. People are still holding out hope they can create something that’s smart and innovative and make money doing it — but the reality is a pioneer of the industry is toting a Flipcam and a network exec is bragging about fleecing a video producer.