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Channel Awesome

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Channel Awesome, Inc.
Industry Online media
Founded April 2008; 10 years ago (2008-04) (as That Guy with the Glasses)
Founders Mike Michaud
Bhargav Dronamraju
Mike Ellis
Headquarters Lombard, Illinois, United States
Key people
Mike Michaud, CEO
Doug Walker, actor & presenter
Rob Walker, screenwriter and creative content officer (CCO)
Revenue $150,000 (2009)
Website https://channelawesome.com

Channel Awesome, Inc. is an American online media production company based in Lombard, Illinois. The company was created in 2008 by Mike Michaud, Mike Ellis, and Bhargav Dronamraju. Channel Awesome operated the That Guy with the Glasses website (often abbreviated TGWTG) until late 2014, when it was phased into the Channel Awesome website. The site is best known for the comedic film review series Nostalgia Critic, starring Doug Walker.

TGWTG previously hosted fellow channels by Bar Fiesta beginning in November 2009, and Blistered Thumbs beginning in November 2010. Channel Awesome currently hosts a YouTube channel of the same name with an emphasis on content produced by Doug Walker and his brother Rob. Nearly all creators with the site severed ties with Channel Awesome and departed in April 2018. All of Channel Awesome's content was hosted by Blip or YouTube prior to the former's shutdown in August 2015.

Origins

Mike Michaud, Mike Ellis and Bhargav Dronamraju created Channel Awesome after they were laid off from Circuit City in 2007. The three discussed the idea of such a company while still employed, but their dismissal was the impetus to put their plans into action. Michaud has stated that "if we didn't lose our jobs, [the business] wouldn't have happened anytime soon".[1][2]

At around the same time, Doug Walker, an actor, comedian, writer, and film critic, began posting several satirical video reviews of films and other media on YouTube under the moniker of the "Nostalgia Critic". Initially, Walker viewed making the videos as a side hobby, rarely interacting with his fans and not revealing his real name until a video responding to the Northern Illinois University shooting. Walker's channel had its content withdrawn from YouTube following complaints from 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate over alleged copyright infringement.[3] Walker attempted to re-upload his content by assigning each video a new, separate channel. However, due to continuing issues, Walker decided to leave YouTube altogether and create the website That Guy with the Glasses, with Michaud acting as webmaster.

That Guy with the Glasses

That Guy with the Glasses was launched in April 2008. It showcased satirical reviews of movies, television shows, music, comic books and video games. The website was built around the work of Walker, including Nostalgia Critic (comedic recaps of bad movies), 5 Second Movies (hyper-edited feature films), Ask That Guy with the Glasses (a comedy question and answer show) and Bum Reviews (humorous plot summaries of theatrical releases). Other videos and written articles were hosted on the site, including some minor series and sketches starring Walker. Videos were primarily hosted by Blip after problems with earlier provider Revver.[4] The website featured videos from a number of other content creators who were steadily added as contributors over the course of several years.

In December 2008, Walker appeared in a commercial for the PBS documentary Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, performing a series of brief imitations of famous comedians, from Charlie Chaplin to Stephen Colbert.[5] In 2009, Doug and Rob Walker, along with Brian Heinz, produced an iRiff of The Lion King for RiffTrax. In March 2009, the iRiff was chosen as the winner of the website's RiffTrax Presents contest. The performers received $1,000 and, with instruction from Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, recorded a commentary for the film Batman Forever.[6]

Nostalgia Critic averaged 100,000 to 300,000 viewers per week while on the site, and one million page views per month.[1][7] This was expected to increase following Blip's deal with YouTube in July 2009.[8] As of July 2009, the site earned more than $10,000 per month in advertising revenue and received more than $11,000 in online donations. In the third quarter of the 2009 fiscal year, Walker's shows earned $53,000, including $32,000 from Nostalgia Critic alone. This revenue was generated by run of network from Puma and Starburst.[1][8] The success of his shows has allowed Walker to make a living performing and to quit his previous job as an illustrator, as well as pay the salary of Ellis, the site's co-founder and COO. The site was featured in Entrepreneur magazine on December 2009[9] where the history of the site was discussed as well as the plans for the future.

A "team shot" of Channel Awesome producers and Republic of Molossia president Kevin Baugh, c. the 2010 filming of their 2nd-year anniversary feature-length special Kickassia

During 2011, Michaud was looking for warehouse space in suburban Chicago.[2] He told The New York Times, "My company has a lot of growing up to do, but I believe that sometime in the next one to two years someone will create that one series that gets everyone talking... [and attract audiences] to the endless options of online video."[2] As of June 2011, the company employed seven full-time staff.[2] According to Walker, "these people are cheap to get because we are happy to see any amount of money". Channel Awesome's ability to attract a significant audience with a low expenditure was proclaimed to have an effect on video entertainment production.[8]

The site gained a wealth of personalities and shows, quickly reaching twenty plus. The first time the producers made an initiative to put each other in the same fictional universe (or "Reviewaverse", as was coined by one of its former producers) was with their first anniversary video, which was a twenty-minute fight between each other, with set up and dialogue only stating it was video game reviewers vs. movie reviewers, egged on by the Nostalgia Critic and Angry Video Game Nerd rivalry that had been going at the time. A full-length site crossover movie was decided for the next year's anniversary. It ended up being a trilogy: Kickassia, which had the plot of the Critic getting a number of the personalities together to takeover a micronation in Nevada; Suburban Knights, where the Critic got together much of the same personalities to find a mystical gauntlet via forced LARPing; and To Boldly Flee, where the Critic and TGWTG's cast travel to space to stop a cosmic anomaly and fight corporate villains.

On June 28, 2012, Channel Awesome content producers Walker, Lindsay Ellis (The Nostalgia Chick; no relation to Mike Ellis), Brad Jones (The Cinema Snob) and Todd Nathanson (Todd in the Shadows) signed exclusivity deals with Blip,[10] which directly hosted most TGWTG and Channel Awesome programming until it was shut down in August 2015.[11][12] The deal did not affect the appearance of the producers' videos on TGWTG, and would assist the increase of budget of the four series, as well as provide technical improvements.[10] An extension of this deal was a Blip-run YouTube channel called "League of Super Critics", which also uploaded the unedited videos of all four producers, with the exception of Jones, whose videos were edited down from the original version so that the only way one could see the full video was to go to Blip.[13]

On December 3, 2014, the site shut down and rebranded itself as ChannelAwesome.com.[14]

Subdivisions

Channel Awesome expressed plans to build on the success of That Guy with the Glasses with a network of subdivisions of the Channel Awesome website, including Bar Fiesta for covering Chicago entertainment and nightlife, and Inked Reality for anime and comic books. Blistered Thumbs began in 2009 as a subdivision of That Guy with the Glasses for housing its video game content. It gained popularity and Blistered Thumbs launched as its own website on November 4, 2010.

Joe Vargas (Angry Joe), already an established video game reviewer on That Guy with the Glasses, was the initial editor-in-chief. Staff writers were drawn from various websites including That Guy with the Glasses, TechRaptor and Normal Boots. Austin Yorski eventually replaced Vargas as editor-in-chief.

In late November 2014, the Blistered Thumbs website was shut down.[citation needed]

ChannelAwesome.com

The new Channel Awesome website debuted in late 2014. All content from TGWTG was relocated to the newly established ChannelAwesome.com. Each week there is a Spotlight Section to promote a website producer, as well as a Featured Blogger.

In January 2015, four of the site's long-time associates departed, including Andrew Dickman, Kyle Kallgren (Oancitizen),[15] Allison Pregler (Obscurus Lupa) and Phelan Porteus (Phelous).[16] Dickman, Porteus and Pregler went to being exclusively on Phelan's site, Phelous.com, while Kyle went to producing videos exclusively for Chez Apocalypse. Later that same month, Lindsay Ellis ended her long-running show The Nostalgia Chick, which had premiered as a companion show to Nostalgia Critic in September 2008.[17] She intended to continue producing videos for League of Super Critics on YouTube and her own website, Chez Apocalypse.[18]

Noah Antwiler, and his reviewer persona "The Spoony One", went to being exclusively on his site, The Spoony Experiment, a little before the fourth anniversary film, but still had a prominent role in it with his consent.

Long-running shows

Nostalgia Critic

Nostalgia Critic is the most popular video series created by Doug Walker, in which he plays the titular reviewer. The show is written by him and his brother Rob Walker. The series was initially launched on YouTube before moving to Blip TV in 2008. It is the flagship show for Channel Awesome, which has since built on it with additional content, additional websites and the spin-off show Nostalgia Chick.[19]

Atop the Fourth Wall

Atop the Fourth Wall (AT4W for short) was the leading comic book review show on the site, hosted by Minnesota native Lewis "Linkara" Lovhaug. His nickname came from a character he created when he was a teen, writing amateur fantasy novels. His show is one of the tamer in tone on the site, as Lewis has one of the more wholesome and light-hearted personalities, and does not use strong profanity on the show.

Being one of the bigger patrons of sci-fi and fantasy shows and movies, such as Doctor Who, Star Trek, Babylon 5, etc., he is one of the strongest users of a story-line, which he features in the same videos as his reviews, where he is an important and high-ranking agent against paranormal and extraterrestrial threats in the Channel Awesome universe. He is also a major fan of Power Rangers and Pokémon, and once featured the glitch MissingNo. as a villain on his show. He also hosts a separate show where he discusses the history of Power Rangers.[20]

In March 2018, Lovhaug announced on his website that he had left Channel Awesome.[21]

The Angry Joe Show

Jose "Angry Joe" Antonio Vargas hosts the leading video game review show on the site. It generally consists of reviews by Vargas stating his honest opinions of current releases of video games, mixed with sketch comedy. These include recent troubles he sees in the games industry such as title exclusivity to a certain console, cutting off previously present and willing buyers, done due to what he says is the misguided preference of console producers' money as opposed to consumers' money;[22] and what he observes as triple-A game producers taking compatible parts of what used to be a finished game only months before release, and releasing them later as downloadable content, in order to artificially increase profit.[23][better source needed] The show has a satirical running gag of Vargas fighting "The Corporate Commander" (a spoof of The Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe), a masked villain who wishes to ruin the gaming community by forcing them to pay substantial amounts of money for subpar games.[citation needed] Vargas is the founder of "The Angry Army", a community specializing in online gaming.[24]

In April 2018, Vargas announced his departure from the Channel Awesome website.[25]

Todd in the Shadows

Todd in the Shadows is a music review show created by Todd Nathanson, who presents it under the persona of the titular "Todd in the Shadows". The show's primary focus is on its three main series: Todd's Pop Song Reviews, in which Nathanson reviews songs that, at the time of review, were or had recently been high-charting; One Hit Wonderland, in which he examines the careers of one-hit wonders; and Trainwreckords, in which he examines albums considered to have "ended [the] thriving careers" of their respective artists.[26] Cinemadonna, in which Nathanson reviews Madonna's feature filmography, was one of the show's main series until its conclusion in September 2016.[27] In the show, Nathanson keeps his appearance anonymous, filming himself in silhouette while sitting at a piano in a dark room. When his face is not in silhouette, he covers its upper half with a black cloth.[28]

Nathanson debuted the series in 2009 and joined That Guy with the Glasses the following year.[29][30] In March 2018, he announced his departure from Channel Awesome on his Twitter account.[31]

The Cinema Snob

The Cinema Snob stars Brad Jones as a pretentious art critic who watches and comments on obscure exploitation films and pornography, the majority of which were released between the late 1960s through the early 1990s. His association with Channel Awesome began with "E.T. The Porno" (January 7, 2010). Like many other shows on Channel Awesome, Jones started his show on YouTube until he was confronted with a copyright claim from the filmmakers of Nail Gun Massacre.[32] Jones has also created additional shows for Channel Awesome, including Brad Tries and Midnight Screenings.

Awards

On January 6, 2011, Doug Walker was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year in Las Vegas at the 4th Annual Mashable Awards.[33]

Activism

On December 5, 2009, the company held a donation drive for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. The donation drive lasted upwards of seven hours and raised $26,400. During the event, calls were taken, prizes were awarded to people who donated large sums of money and videos featuring the talent on the site were aired. The donation drive was extended a few more days making the grand total $32,200.[34]

On December 15, 2011, Lindsay Ellis posted a video about Channel Awesome staff traveling to Washington, D.C. to lobby members of Congress about the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act. Ellis, Michaud, Rob Walker, and content producers Noah Antwiler (The Spoony One), Kyle Kallgren (Oancitizen and Brows Held High), Lewis Lovhaug (Linkara), Todd Nathanson (Todd in the Shadows), Paul Schuler (Paw Dugan) and Joe Vargas (Angry Joe) all traveled to Washington, D.C. to represent Channel Awesome and support freedom of speech on the internet.[35]

Management controversy

Initial allegations

Between October 2014 through January 2015, several long-time content producers departed from Channel Awesome. In March 2018, several former producers alleged, via a series of Twitter posts, mismanagement and mistreatment by members of Channel Awesome's upper-management, including the Walker brothers and Michaud. The allegations included a history of sexist behavior by Michaud toward female producers, incompetence by the Walker brothers during production of the company's anniversary films, and failure to communicate with producers about significant decisions affecting them.[36] One such allegation from Ellis stated that during production on the film To Boldly Flee, she was repeatedly pressured into performing looping for a scene in which her character was implied to be raped off-screen by Lewis Lovhaug's character. She further alleged that due to Ellis and Lovhaug's protests over the scene's content, Doug Walker rewrote it so the implication of assault was less implicit. Ellis said that she was forced to perform the scene under intimidation.[36]

In March and April 2018, several more producers—including Lovhaug (Linkara),[21] Todd Nathanson (Todd in the Shadows),[31] Daren Jackson (Rap Critic)[37][38] and Mike Jeavons (MikeJ)[39]—departed from Channel Awesome.

Further departures

On April 2, 2018, a group of former Channel Awesome contributors and employees publicly released a document, entitled "Not So Awesome", via Google Drive. The document compiled grievances against the company, both those that had been previously made and ones that had not yet been publicly known. Over twenty former producers and employees, along with two individuals whose identities were kept anonymous, provided various allegations that were included in the document.[40] The subsequent response from Channel Awesome was criticized by fans and the company's former producers, as they felt the company was not apologizing or taking responsibility for their wrongdoings.[41]

On that and the following days, more producers, including Omar Ahmed (Yomarz),[42] Nash Bozard,[43] Matthew Buck (Film Brain),[44] Tony Goldmark (Some Jerk with a Camera),[45] Elisa Hansen (Maven), Brian Heinz (The Last Angry Geek),[46] Leeman Kessler (Ask Lovecraft), Heather McDonald (Calluna),[47] Dominic Smith (The Dom),[48] Luke Spencer (Rocked) and Chris Stuckmann[49] left Channel Awesome, with some citing their dissatisfaction with the company's response to the controversy as their reason for doing so,[43][48] lowering the number of producers for the website from forty to about ten by April 5.[50] Channel Awesome's planned tenth anniversary was cancelled as a result of the controversy.[45]

Second response and fallout

On April 11, 2018, Channel Awesome released a second response to the allegations as a blog post on its website. Titled "Our Response", the post was intended to refute the "most egregious" of the allegations made by former producers, Holly Brown and Jane Doe, who are described within it as "disgruntled individuals with vindictive intentions".[51]

Within 48 hours of the response's posting, nearly all of Channel Awesome's remaining producers, including long-time veterans Joe Vargas (Angry Joe),[25] Bennett White (Bennett the Sage) and Lawrence Simpson (MasakoX), as well as Gaming Wildlife,[52] Bargain Boy, Ryan Molina (Battle Geek Plus),[53] Timid Jester,[54] DToons Productions (maker of the series Toons These Days),[55] and Eric Rodriguez (Blockbuster Buster)[56] also left the website.

As of April 14, 2018, the website listed two remaining producers apart from the Walkers: Brad Jones (Cinema Snob) and Larry Bundy Jr. (Guru Larry); the latter stated that among his reasons for remaining were that "no one ever actually believed I was ever on TGWTG".[57]

References

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  30. ^ "A Pop Song Review: Kesha ft. 3OH!3 – BlahBlahBlah". Channel Awesome. Archived from the original on February 11, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
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  38. ^ Archived April 1, 2018, at the Wayback Machine.
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  46. ^ @InGeekWeTrust (April 7, 2018). "A few moments ago I left Channel Awesome..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  47. ^ @CallunaReviews (April 7, 2018). "Well, time to say goodbye" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  48. ^ a b @Dominic_Smith (April 7, 2018). "So thats that :(" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  49. ^ @Chris_Stuckman (April 6, 2018). "Yes I respectfully asked to be removed..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  50. ^ "Alen Blažeković on Twitter".
  51. ^ "Our Response". channelawesome.com. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  52. ^ @GamingWildlife (April 12, 2018). "Hey guys, Mike here. I am so sorry to the people involved in this chaos with #channelawesome we've only had good experiences with it's staff, and the reason for our delayed decision was that we wanted to see their issued response... That being said we've decided to part ways" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  53. ^ "Farewell Channel Awesome, and thanks for everything". battlegeekplus.tumblr.com. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  54. ^ The Timid Jester (April 12, 2018). "Hey guys- here's an update on us and our decision to leave Channel Awesome". Twitter. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  55. ^ Dtoons Productions (April 13, 2018). "I'd like to inform everyone that in light of recent events, we have ended our affiliation with Channel Awesome. Please refer to this list of content creators so you can continue to follow and support them". Twitter. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  56. ^ Eric Rodriguez (April 13, 2018). "I Quit Channel Awesome". YouTube. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  57. ^ Bundy Jr., Larry. "Because I've been there for a decade and I've always been stuck in this Bearenstein Bears dimension where no one ever actually believed I was ever on TGWTG. I never was included in fan art, I was never asked to be in a crossover, I was never asked to be in any anniversary movies". Twitter. Archived from the original on April 15, 2018. Retrieved April 15, 2018.

External links