When you’re a member of the YouTube vlogger elite like Philip DeFranco, there are lots of different opportunities available to you. You can get involved in site-wide product placement campaigns. You can co-star in a HBO-produced comedy series. You can join a collective of other YouTube stars to create a sketch comedy series. And then you can leave that sketch comedy series to return to your roots — and help some other YouTube vloggers get the attention they deserve.
The latter — and DeFranco’s latest project — is Like Totally Awesome, which isn’t so much a review show as it is a compilation of some quality user-generated reviews from around the web, curated by DeFranco and producer Sarah Evershed. Any YouTube user is allowed to submit a review of a movie, video game or piece of technology, and the best four every week are brought together in the Quad, a DeFranco-hosted video posted every Thursday that uses YouTube annotations to link to the four best. (DeFranco is not the exclusive host of the Quad videos, however — last week, while he was attending CES, web series creator and actress Taryn Southern filled in.)
The ultimate aim is to spotlight some of the more entertaining and creative commentators on YouTube, and the chosen videos are often highly creative, incorporating greenscreening, animation and other clever twists on what could be a stale vlog review format. There’s even a rewards system in place — a reviewer who’s featured week after week and attracts positive comments and high ratings on his or her videos will be invited to contribute videos directly to the LTA YouTube account.
The first recipient of this honor is Ammad Khan, otherwise known as The PBCD, who after being featured in the Quad three weeks in a row, contributed this week a review of the film Youth in Revolt that cleverly invokes the premise of the Michael Cera comedy.
In addition to the Quad and guest reviews, DeFranco also contributes his own reviews and interviews to the channel, such as this peek from CES at the new multiplayer edition of Bioshock 2, but according to Evershed, the aim is to only add one to three new pieces of content every week, so as not to overwhelm subscribers (some of whom may also be following DeFranco’s other channels). As they add more featured reviewers, the channel will rotate them in on alternating weeks.
After only six weeks online, LTA is the #99 most subscribed YouTube channel of all time, with 193,177 subscribers and over five million combined views. Most notably, it does give huge exposure to YouTubers who otherwise languish in obscurity, though that’s not a guarantee of instant success. User FirstPlayTV for example, had only broken 1,000 views on one prior video, but his review of Daybreakers is currently at almost 45,000 views on the separate LTA channel devoted to user reviews. However, while his subscribers have increased from 189 to 315 over the past three weeks (based on a comment left on the profile page), he’s still got a long way to go before reaching DeFranco’s level of success. The fact that he’s getting his chance, though, is something to applaud.