TV and YouTube: Never the twain shall meet?

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TV and YouTube: Never the twain shall meet?


From left, stills from TV shows “Hangout with Yoo,” “Street Food Fighter 2” and “Three Meals a Day: Three Meals in Iceland” all make the best use of YouTube channels. [TVN, SBS]

YouTube is no longer a platform restricted to the average Joe or Jane in search of ways to become stars. Big-name producers have launched new shows on the giant video-sharing website, and their attempts are getting a lot of attention from the industry: Could they become the next big thing in a saturated entertainment market? And will that spell an end to the traditional media of broadcasting?

Na Young-seok and Kim Tae-ho are two pivotal producers in Korea’s broadcasting circles. The two recently began producing content for YouTube.

Na has created numerous hits such as “Grandpa Over Flowers,” “Three Meals a Day,” “Youn’s Kitchen” and “New Journey to the West.”

Of all the shows, the format of “Granpa Over Flowers,” in which actors in their 70s go on backpacking trips to a foreign country, was exported to Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States. NBC remade the show in 2016 with the title “Better Late than Never.”

Na’s YouTube project began with his popular show “New Journey to the West,” in which a cast goes on a trip for days and grapples with silly games.

In the sixth season of “New Journey to the West,” two of its cast members - Lee Su-geun and Eun Ji-won - won a trip to Iceland. They initially refused the prize citing their busy schedules, but eventually went. Kang Ho-dong, another cast member of the show, recommended the production team broadcast the trip to Iceland by editing it as a short clip and adding it at the end of “Three Meals a Day: Mountain Village” on tvN.

The spin-off show is titled “Three Meals a Day: Three Meals in Iceland.”

The five-minute show that appears at the end of “Three Meals a Day: Mountain Village” was merely a teaser. The real show, with episodes about 20 minutes long, was instantly available on Channel Nanana on YouTube, a strategy that makes the best use of two platforms - TV and YouTube - at once.


Na previously unveiled the very first season of “New Journey to the West,” now in its seventh season, through Naver TV Cast prior to the scheduled airing date in 2015.

Naver TV Cast, now renamed Naver TV, is an online website run by the country’s largest search engine, Naver, and it distributes web dramas and TV show clips.

For “Three Meals a Day: Three Meals in Iceland,” Na tried to make it special for YouTube, adopting formulas seen in other content on channels.

For example, Lee and Eun gorge on in-flight meals on their way from Incheon to Iceland, which may remind viewers of mukbang or videos that show people eating. They also do unboxing, another kind of popular video online in which people film themselves opening various products.

When the first episode of “Three Meals a Day: Three Meals in Iceland” hit the air on tvN, Na did a livestream show on his YouTube channel and said, “I can’t believe 9,600 people are staying tuned [to the YouTube channel] without watching the TV.”

With the high number of subscribers to the YouTube channel, Na joked that he was concerned about the future of TV. He promised that he would send Lee and Eun to the moon if his YouTube channel reached one million subscribers within 10 weeks.

After only four episodes, the Nanana channel now has about 800,000 subscribers.

“Inside the company, we discuss a lot about digital content, and a majority of people were in favor of the approach [by Na],” said a person working at CJ ENM, which runs the cable channel tvN.

“The production team is likely to accept the challenge of a new format when another chance is given to them,” he added.

Producer Kim Tae-ho is also trying to combine YouTube with his TV show “Hangout with Yoo” on MBC.

Kim is the creator of “Infinite Challenge” (2006-2018), one of the longest-running TV shows in history.

Prior to the launch of “Hangout with Yoo” in July, Kim created a YouTube channel with the same title as the TV show and has been uploading some behind-the-scene clips such as the footage of the recording studio in which Yoo Jae-suk, the host of the TV show, improvises with professional musicians as part of a specific episode.

“Hangout with Yoo” has a format that’s like a relay race. Yoo records his own life with a handheld camera and then passes the camera onto another celebrity. He films his life and passes it along too.

When the production team unveiled the TV show to the press in July, Kim said, “This new concept goes well along with the direction MBC wants to go, and the broadcaster can grow into a quality content maker for mobile and the Internet.”

But Kim’s YouTube channel failed to differentiate itself from the TV platform: It seemed like a TV show on a different kind of screen.

The YouTube channel for “Hangout with Yoo” has about 320,000 subscribers, and the number has been somewhat stagnant.

Another TV show produced by Kim, “Funding Together,” is more successful than “Hangout with Yoo” and is blurring the line between a TV show and an online platform.

“Funding Together” is a TV show themed on crowdfunding. Celebrities come up with ideas that seem improbable and then they turn their ideas into action through crowdfunding. The show collaborates with Naver Happybean, an online donation platform run by Naver.

Actor Yu Jun-sang appeared in the first episode and did a presentation about his idea of making a special kind of case for Taegeukgi, the national flag. The case can even become a flag holder so that people can hoist the national flag indoors.

The Taegeukgi project of Yu did three rounds of crowdfunding, and each round exceeded its goal. In addition, the special Taegeukgi sold 10,000 pieces through a TV home shopping channel.

“Funding Together” is a good example of a good match between a TV show and an online platform bringing explosive feedback from viewers.

Paik Jong-won, a food expert, entrepreneur and popular TV celebrity, launched his YouTube channel Paik’s Cuisine in June.

The cooking guru has been sharing his easy-to-follow recipes on numerous TV shows. One day, he discovered that many of his recipes available online are not correct. So he launched the YouTube channel.

The channel has 2.8 million subscribers, and the most popular video clip on the channel has gotten 92 million views.

Paik, who appeared on the first season of the TV show “My Little TV” on MBC, knows how to communicate with viewers.

In the TV show, Paik did a series of cooking live chat sessions with viewers. Sometimes minor requests from viewers become good material for the YouTube channel.

If mackerel kebabs go viral after they are featured on “Street Food Fighter 2” on tvN, which has Paik as a host, Paik’s Cuisine uploads a video clip of him visiting Turkey that was not included on the TV show along with a clip on how to make the mackerel kebabs.

The channel is run by The Born Korea, a company run by Paik.

These crossover challenges by some of the industry’s bigwigs are embraced by industry insiders.

“Some view such attempts by star producers as eating up the existing market, but it is proof that YouTube and other [online] platforms are growing well,” said a person working at a production company.

“There was a time when many producers moved from terrestrial networks to cable channels and brought the renaissance period to cable channels. [The move of producers into YouTube] will help to expand the [YouTube] pie in the long run,” he added.

Jeong Deok-hyun, the culture critic, said, “Only the most creative content makers survive under the ecosystem of YouTube, but the shift of TV celebrities and production teams [from the small screen to YouTube] seems like they are at a transitional period. They are still doing the same thing but are changing their backdrops.

“Paik knows how to approach each different platform based on years of experience, and it is his greatest strength. As a way to differentiate [their content on YouTube], more new figures are needed other than singers, actors and TV celebrities,” Jeong added.


V는 맛보기 예고편? 유튜브로 가는 예능 고수들

스타 연출자들이 잇달아 유튜브에 출사표를 던졌다. 예능계 양대 산맥인 나영석·김태호 PD가 나란히 유튜브를 활용한 프로그램을 선보였다. 예능계의 블루칩으로 떠오른 백종원의 유튜브 채널까지 삼파전 양상을 띠게 된 것. 유튜브를 활용하는 방식은 조금씩 다르지만 새로운 트렌드를 선도해온 이들이 예능계의 판도를 다시 한번 바꿀 수 있을지 관심이 쏠리고 있다.

가장 주목받고 있는 것은 나영석 사단의 행보다. 신효정 PD는 ‘말이 씨가 된다’는 예능의 법칙에 따라 5분짜리 예능 프로 ‘신서유기 외전: 삼시세끼-아이슬란드 간 세끼’를 탄생시켰다. 지난해 ‘신서유기6’에서 아이슬란드 오로라 보기 상품권을 획득한 이수근과 은지원이 바쁜 스케줄을 이유로 상품 수령을 거부하고 있는 사이 “‘삼시세끼’ 뒤에 매주 5분씩 붙여서 내보내자”는 강호동의 말을 놓치지 않고 편성에 성공한 것. 기묘한 제목의 프로그램이 생겨난 이유다.

TV에서 5분간 방영되는 프로그램은 예고편에 불과하다. 방송이 끝나고 1분 뒤 유튜브 ‘채널 나나나’에 올라오는 20분 남짓의 영상이 본편이다. TV와 유튜브를 본격적으로 오가는 전략을 취한 것이다. 2015년 네이버 TV캐스트를 통해 선공개했던 ‘신서유기1’과는 또 다른 방식이다. 당시엔 이미 공개된 웹예능에서 최소한의 편집만 거쳐 방송으로 내보냈다면, 이번엔 아예 유튜브의 문법을 적극적으로 차용한다. 기내식 먹방이나 제품 박스 열기(언박싱) 등 유튜브에서만 볼 수 있는 콘텐트가 넘쳐난다.

지난달 20일 첫 방송 시간에 맞춰 유튜브 라이브를 진행한 나영석 PD는 “지금 9600명이나 TV를 안 보고 이걸 보고 있단 말이냐”며 직업의 미래를 걱정하면서도 다시금 씨를 뿌렸다. ‘아이슬란드 간 세끼’가 10주간 방영되는 동안 채널 구독자 수가 100만 명을 돌파하면 “이수근·은지원씨를 달나라로 보내겠다”며 공약을 내건 것. 3회 방영을 마친 현재 구독자는 72만 명이다. CJ ENM 관계자는 “내부에서도 디지털 콘텐트에 대한 고민이 많기 때문에 반대보다 흥미로운 시도라는 반응이 더 많았다”며 “제작진은 추후 기회가 된다면 또 도전해 보겠다는 입장”이라고 밝혔다.

김태호 사단 역시 새로운 플랫폼과 결합을 시도 중이다. 지난 7월 MBC 예능 ‘놀면 뭐하니?’ 론칭을 앞두고 동명의 유튜브 채널을 개설해 간간이 ‘유튜브 온리’ 영상을 올리고 있다. 유재석의 드럼 비트로 시작된 릴레이 음원 만들기 프로젝트 ‘유플래쉬’를 진행하면서 폴킴과 헤이즈의 녹음 현장이나 한상원·이석민·윤석철의 즉흥 연주 같은 콘텐트를 추가로 공개하는 것이다. 제작발표회 당시 김태호 PD는 유튜브 도전에 대해 “향후 MBC는 모바일, 인터넷 콘텐트를 잘 만드는 회사로 성장해 나갈 것이기 때문에 방향성이 잘 맞을 것”이라고 밝혔다.

하지만 플랫폼 간 차별화를 꾀하는 데는 실패했다. 유튜브에서 시청했을 때 장점이 극대화되는 것이 아니라 TV의 영상 문법을 그대로 따른 콘텐트이기 때문이다. 현재 채널 구독자 수는 32만 명 수준으로 정체된 상황. 오히려 네이버 해피빈과 손잡은 ‘같이 펀딩’이 더 큰 반향을 일으키고 있다. 유준상의 태극기함 프로젝트는 1~3차 크라우드펀딩을 모두 초과 달성한 데 이어 홈쇼핑에서도 1만개가 완판됐다. 플랫폼과 맞는 콘텐트가 만나면 어떻게 폭발력을 가지는지를 단적으로 보여준 셈이다.

지난 6월 유튜브 진출을 선언한 백종원의 상승세도 가파르다. 인터넷에 떠돌아다니는 잘못된 백종원 레시피에 놀라 시작한 ‘백종원의 요리비책’ 채널 구독자 수는 284만 명. 누적 조회 수는 9200만 회에 달한다.

백종원은 MBC ‘마이 리틀 텔레비전’ 시즌1을 통해 갈고 닦은 소통의 기술을 십분 발휘한다. 구독자의 요청은 곧 콘텐트가 된다. tvN ‘스트리트 푸드 파이터 2’ 터키 편에서 방영된 발륵 에크멕(고등어 케밥)이 화제가 되면, 유튜브에는 현지 방문기를 담은 ‘백종원의 푸드트립’과 직접 만들어 보는 ‘백종원의 쿠킹로그’가 올라오는 식이다. 이 콘텐트는 백종원이 운영하는 더본코리아 사내 유튜브 팀이 제작하고 있다.

경계를 허무는 도전에 대한 평가는 긍정적인 편이다. 한 제작사 관계자는 “스타 PD의 웹콘텐트 진출에 대해 골목상권 침해라는 반응도 있지만 그만큼 유튜브 등 새로운 플랫폼이 성장하고 있다는 증거”라며 “지상파 PD들이 케이블·종편으로 이동해 부흥기를 이끈 것처럼 판이 커지는 데 도움이 될 것”이라고 밝혔다. 또 “방송사에서 운영하는 유튜브 채널이 있더라도 MBC ‘오분순삭’, JTBC ‘와썹맨’ ‘워크맨’처럼 별도 운영하는 편이 타깃 시청층과 소통하는 데 도움이 되기 때문에 이 같은 채널 쪼개기 현상은 가속화될 것”이라고 전망했다.

정덕현 대중문화평론가는 “유튜브는 차별화된 능력을 갖춘 크리에이터가 살아남는 생태계인데 지금은 기존 TV에서 활동하던 출연자와 제작진이 무대만 옮긴 과도기적 상황”이라고 분석했다. 이어 “백종원은 사업가로서 프랜차이즈를 운영해본 경험을 살려 플랫폼별로 요구되는 속성을 정확하게 파악해 대응하고 있는 것이 강점”이라며 “차별화를 꾀하기 위해서라도 가수·배우·예능인으로 고정되지 않은 새로운 직군의 참여가 필요하다”고 덧붙였다.

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