Still think YouTube (s GOOG) is all about cat videos? Then you might want to check out Video Game High School, Freddie Wong’s gaming-themed scripted series that just debuted season two on the platform.
Video Game High School is set in a world where kids go to school to learn all about video gaming, which is a perfect setup for the YouTube audience, but it’s also following the playbook for serialized teen romance. Underdog goes to school, gets in trouble with the jocks, lands on the principal’s short list, makes friends with other outcasts and inevitably falls in love with the popular girl.
I won’t spoil the rest for you — just watch season one on YouTube, I promise it will be worth it. Wong’s special talent is the perfect combination of riveting action scenes with a story that’s captivating enough to suck you in even if you’re not a gamer (I’m not, and I loved the show).
What Google wants YouTube to look like
But there’s something else that’s interesting about Video Game High School. The show is a good example of what Google wants YouTube to look more like in the future: High-quality production that understands the audience, and attracts real ad dollars. The show’s second season is sponsored by Dodge, and with TV-length half-hour episodes, YouTube is able to show viewers a total of three ads in the season two premiere episode.
YouTube has long been pushing for more professional content, with a wide variety of tools: The site has given out free equipment to some of its producers, invited others to classes to learn more about video production and given sizable advances to select partners. There’s some dispute about the effectiveness of these measures, especially since YouTube chose not to renew more than 60 percent of its premium channels.
Of course, traditional TV networks cancel shows all the time — and YouTube increasingly seems to take its cues from the studios. Case in point: The video service opened a sizable production facility in Los Angeles earlier this year that’s open to YouTube producers to shoot their shows.
Check out the YouTube Space Los Angeles in this video tour or continue reading below.
Video Game High School was the first show that was shot in its entirety in the YouTube studio — and if the first episode of the second season is any indication, then we should expect a whole lot more TV-quality content on YouTube.