Ever since the launch of Youtube, original online content produced for mass audiences has grown by leaps and bounds, along with a higher level of production quality for both scripted and non-scripted series. Given the countless variety and amount of options for viewers to choose from, the task of trying to find the best of that content has always been a challenge.
While sites such as Funny Or Die, JTS.tv (Just The Story), and dozens of Youtube-based multi channel networks (MCNs) like Maker Studios and MyDamnChannel (just to name a few) make up the bulk of original video material, it still takes some effort on the part of viewers to figure out just what they want to see.
Now, one new venture attempts to take the guesswork out of looking for great content, while emphasizing viewer interactivity through various social media platforms.
Having launched Wednesday, September 9th, MewNowTV is unlike any video network currently on the web. MewNowTV (meaning me, you, we, now, as described by network founder Kyle Valle) features a diverse range of episodic and unscripted series.
Among them: comedies (CLASS ACT and JOBLESS), fitness (TUNE UP), sci-fi (JOURNEYMAN, MISSION MARS #6), personality-driven shows (MANNY’S WORLD OF COLOR, THE MAGICKAL WORLD OF VOXX, plus the hilarious TALKIN’ POINTS and THE JOE SHOW) and Spanish-language (Tremen2). More information on each of these programs is located alongside this article.
Through all 10 of these shows, MewNowTV does much more than just entertain.
It gives viewers a chance to interact with them through 9 specially designed apps, customized and tailored to fit the series they were created for. In addition, Valle says that each of MewNowTV’s shows will heavily involve some of today’s most popular social media apps.
“I can’t say too much about this one now, but aside from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram campaigns, we will also be involving the viewers via several other digital outlets – look out for Periscope, it’s an amazingly intuitive tool and will change the game concerning content creation.”
Best of all, viewers won’t have to do a lot of searching in order to find their favorite content via MewNowTV’s website (see more links below), which features an equally attractive interface.
“We didn’t want people to have to search through tons of content to get to what they wanted to watch,” Valle says. “Our series are easy to find, always surprising, and when you enter the site, you know you’re going to find something that challenges the usual status-quo.”
Valle spoke to me regarding MewNowTV’s innovative approach to programming and interactivity, how web series creators can benefit through the network’s monetization system, his knack for finding and nurturing the incredibly talented young actors, writers and producers who work on each show, and how his own personal struggles with breaking into showbiz helped fuel the creation and growth of MewNowTV itself.
Frustration. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I quickly met, then started renting with, one of my now-best friends Jessica Williams (aka Punkie Johnson, host of the MewNowTV series TALKIN’ POINTS).
Coming together to save money, we found a special kind of kinship, which, I find to be exceedingly rare in the world today. But over the two plus years that we lived together, I saw her work harder than anyone I had ever met.
From waiting tables all night at the Comedy Store, coming home, working on her craft — writing, reasserting, testing material, getting four hours of sleep and then repeating it all the next day. She was relentless and it got to the point that I rarely did see her. It frustrated me to no end watching her work her ass off and not get any accolades — and now some may think, “well, maybe she didn’t have it.”
You’d be completely and totally wrong; one of my greatest skills is knowing talent, and J.J. (Jess) is Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle mixed into one beautiful person. She’ll make you laugh, make you cry and then scare the sh*t out of you. She’s an actress, a comedian and a great person.
But here she was for two years grinding it out, being constantly looked over because of superficial nonsense like race or sexual orientation, or (most importantly in this town) not kissing the right ass. It was immensely frustrating to me. That, and experiencing my own and other friends’ struggles, got the ball rolling in the back of my brain.
For both creators and the public to express themselves artistically and interact with art in a whole new way. New technology is being developed daily, yet we do not see the introduction of it into the stories, let alone method of story creation and distribution.
When’s the last time you saw a 3-D printer in a movie? Or organic clothes? Things that either currently exist or will in short time. This lack of inventiveness by an industry which seems to value Ivy league educations over artists’ opinions brought into sharp realization the need for a space like MewNowTV and with that I got to work.
From there, a multitude of people, friends and family have all given input and helped grow it into what it is today. After all the best tool anyone can have is an honest support system; they will help you to cultivate, grow and produce anything and I am extremely grateful to have those people in my life. So in short, holes in an already established market.
Who is involved in the company? Describe their roles.
The team is ever-evolving — we’ve been very lucky to continuously find amazing, talented people and fold them into the MewNowTV venture. As you can imagine, in order to complete 10 series with only 9 people, we all covered the gaps and filled in where needed throughout the production process.
For example, Manny Alvarado (host of the MewNowTV series MANNY’S WORLD OF COLOR) was initially brought on as an intern writer, and after 5 months he’s added producer, editor, series creator, leading actor and numerous crew jobs as part of his (now permanent) job description. We’ve all learned and grown as a team and as individuals — it’s been an incredible journey.
What sets the content on MewNowTV apart from that of other networks? How (if at all) is it similar?
It’s the only place that I’m aware of that’s putting really high quality, honest and consistent content out there that is not controlled by a giant network or corporation.
The series’ interactivity with apps is something that is also not currently being explored in depth; which, we have been working on, and focusing on the users’ experience instead of their wallets gives us a different take on it all. We’re similar in that we have a multi-genre network and want everyone to know about our shows! We’re here to entertain.
How will the content on MewNowTV benefit viewers and creators?
We seek to create entertainment in its purest form and explore life from every side. We’re not hiring seasoned actors with big names or established comedians already touring the world; we have been looking for and have successfully found truly inspirational artists who are up and coming, have something truly interesting to say and complete passion and devotion for their craft. They just needed a place to show it and a team to put it together.
So often, artistic talent gets lost or original messages get streamlined all for the sake of a quick buck. At MewNow, our main goal is to give individuals the chance to express their own, completely unique voice on one unified channel, without attempting to control or curtail their voice from overhead.
You can see and feel this when you watch MewNowTV.com. Everything comes together as one and emphasizes the individual, but also the same and the whole — that is the voice and feel of our generation. Because when me, you, we, work together anything is possible, now.
We plan to bring on additional content creators using a unique format (see above) in which we will aid and feature their productions, but we need to raise the funds to continue creating our initial series on the site first.
Eventually crowd funding, advertising, sponsorships, apps, etc., all will be harnessed in order to continuously put out new content. The draw for new content creators will be that exclusivity of the space and the limited “hosting fee”, or the amount a YouTube type of hosting service might skim off your advert, or other monetization method.
Our main goal is not to make money off of someone else’s hard work, but rather to monetize our own success, and (to) give others an opportunity to do the same so that everyone can benefit from what I see as becoming a virtual renaissance.
You can already see this in the sheer amount of great art hitting the web; the volume alone is staggering, but still, individuals are limited because they must first ‘pay back’ big business, which is only hosting their art prior to reinvesting into their own work. I just imagine what artists could do if the money was just there; that possibility is what truly excites me and is what MewNowTV plans to do.
What apps will be involved, and how do they apply to each series?
The apps are themed to match the series; a magic eight ball for THE MAGICKAL WORLD OF VOXX, hosted by Voxx, the World’s Most Accurate Psychic, a movie themed trivia game for CLASS ACT, a fast-paced reaction staking game for TUNE UP, and so forth.
You’ll be able to watch your favorite shows and play the themed app games; which, will be only the first step. We have further plans for increasing interaction and bringing the audience closer to the shows, but for now, that’s all I can say. Stay tuned!
How can viewers interact with each series through those apps?
Not only will the theming be interactive, but the game play will be as well; by year’s end you will have a global scoreboard, user profile and ranking determined by points gained, allowing you to gain unprecedented access to the stories, characters and shows. This will extend into user manipulation of story, original prop giveaways, personalized messages and so much more.
Overall, what are your hopes for the success of MewNow TV?
To entertain and empower.
Note: Regarding closed-captioning/subtitling of the network’s content, Valle says: “We plan to have subtitles as an option by the 1st of November in Spanish, Chinese, and hopefully Japanese.”
ON THE WEB: www.MewNowTV.com