The Monday Morning Quarterback

It Had To Be You-Tube

There’s a new network in town, and I think this one stands a chance.

YouTube has launched TakePart TV, a digital home for eye-opening and optimistic content that seeks to stimulate discussion, interest and activism. YouTube says their target market is millennials (teenagers to age 30) and will attract them with original content that consists of news, short-form comedy, animation, and nonfiction series featuring Henry Rollins, Dan Savage and, yes, Kobe Bryant.

TakePart TV is an addition to YouTube’s 100-channel emporia of aggregated material, with one big difference: it’s a provider of content that will encourage viewers to share it for free. Just as past YouTube hits, from piano playing cats to “Call Me Maybe” parodies to the latest Gangnam-style dance craze have dominated online sharing, TakePart TV believes its original content will soon be shared with millions of online viewers.

The network’s flagship show is “BFD: Brain Food Daily” that features five correspondents focusing on sex, power, media, mind and the planet. Widely varying topics available this week included reports on legalized prostitution and stories of the afterlife.

Other TakePart TV fare includes:

American Savage – video reports from columnist Dan Savage on sex, religion and politics

Compton Cricket – A dicuseries follwing an effort to introduce troubled youth in Compton to the gentleman’s game of cricket

Mission – Controversial basketball player Kobe Bryant investigates the plague of homelessness at Los Angeles’ Skid Row

Capitalism – Poet-activist Henry Rollins follows the campaign trail on a two month odyssey to all 50 state capitals

TakePart TV programmers believe that the millennial generation truly cares about issues like the environment, and that they are looking to be part of something larger. TakePart TV, for it’s part, will provide actionable content on a daily basis – content that shows viewers how they can act to change things.

So what’s it like to watch TakePart TV? First of all, it looks like YouTube’s 100 other channels, lots of video titles, all about 5-8 minutes in length, many with brand-name personalities attached. There’s some lifestyle, some comedy, and a lot of earnest-sounding environmental stories – it all seems perfect for young viewers who care. I would say it’s not exactly my style (I’m at least two generations removed from the target audience) but I’ll admit I posted two videos to my timeline. One was a piece on fracking by actor Mark Ruffalo, the other a video on inexpensive interior design. Both will probably be of interest to my Facebook friends.

Now mind you, I’m not saying TakePart TV will be the next best thing, just that it’s the next good thing. It features lots of information on health, civics and style that should be of interest to a lot of young people. If it’s not exactly essential, at least its entertaining.

Increasingly, Television has become far less of a box, a destination or a time slot. TV is growing into a real exchange of values between artists, producers, writers and an audience. TakePart TV is a piece of television that happens to be online. It’s a part, albeit a small one, of my life. It looks as though it is meant to be entertaining and fun, raw and viral. But even more, it looks like TV with a brain. If there are ever kittens playing pianos on TakePart TV, I’m sure they’ll have something to say.

– Art Reker, Account and Creative Executive