The success of YouTuber documentaries proves media companies should be betting on creators

Posted by Caroline Edwards in Comment

6 months ago

YouTubers have been documenting their lives on the internet for more than a decade and now streaming platforms are capitalising on their success by tapping prominent vloggers for exclusive content and series.

US YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson (MrBeast) made headlines in January when it was reported he is set to make a deal with Amazon Prime Video worth US $100 million (£78.9 million). The proposed competition series would be similar to his viral YouTube content and would include cash prizes. Donaldson has more than 236 million subscribers and if even a fraction of his fanbase watches the original show, it will be a triumph.

YouTubers have loyal audiences who are invested in their lives and are keen to learn more about their stories. Take for example French vlogger Lucas Hauchard (Squeezie). In January, he released a five-part docuseries, which topped the charts on Prime Video France. Titled Merci, Internet, it offered a behind-the-scenes look at the past decade of his career as a creator and was directed by his close friend Théodore Bonnet. Hauchard is one of the top YouTubers in France with more than 18 million subscribers and 8.7 million Instagram followers. His Reel announcing the docuseries has more than 13 million views, 840K likes and 4,400 comments, as his audience shared their excited for the news.

YouTuber documentaries are mutually beneficial partnerships

These documentaries help lift the veil on the lives of people’s favourite creators and Amazon in particular has been championing these stories. In January 2023, Sidemen member and boxer KSI released a documentary called KSI: In Real Life, which was executively produced by presenter Louis Theroux. It offered an “access-all-areas look” at the “most momentous year of [KSI’s] life”. The same year, Amazon Prime Video Norge launched the reality show Girls of Oslo, starring notable Norwegian influencers Sophie Elise, Isabel Raad, Nora Haukland and Anniken Englund Jørgensen.

Amazon isn’t the only media company tapping creators for shows and films. YouTube collective Sidemen are set to star in a Netflix documentary called The Sidemen Story, out on 14 February. The streaming platform also worked with US boxer and vlogger Jake Paul for the 2023 documentary Untold: Jake Paul the Problem Child and had a reality show called Hype House featuring US TikTokers in 2022.

Elsewhere, Disney+ has a reality series called The D’Amelio Show about US TikTokers Charli and Dixie D’Amelio and their family, which premiered in 2021. There’s also the BBC Scotland series The Agency: Unfiltered about Glasgow-based company Aquarius Creative, which premiered in 2023 and features UK creators such as Abbie Blyth and Abigail Comrie.

These shows and films are proven to be mutually beneficial partnerships. Both parties provide access to new audiences and for creators, these shows can boost their profile and add to their success. Influencers have an abundance of charisma and dedicated followers, and platforms should be betting on digital talent for new, original content in 2024.

By Caroline Edwards, CORQ news and features writer. Picture credit: Squeezie via Instagram