(as That Guy with the Glasses)|
Lombard, Illinois, U.S.
|Headquarters||Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|
|Mike Michaud, CEO
Doug Walker, Actor & Presenter
Rob Walker, Screenwriter and Creative Content Officer (CCO)
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 replaced by the current Channel Awesome website.
That Guy with the Glasses previously hosted fellow channels by Bar Fiesta beginning in November 2009, Blistered Thumbs beginning in November 2010. As of May 2015, Channel Awesome currently hosts a YouTube channel of the same name with an emphasis on the Walker Brothers' content, as well as the YouTube channel League of Super Critics that includes several of the site's other top producers. All of Channel Awesome's content was hosted by Blip or YouTube prior to the former's shutdown in August 2015.
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."
Doug Walker is an Italian-born American actor, comedian, writer, and film critic. He first appeared on the web on YouTube, posting several satirical video reviews of films and other media entertainment of the past and present. Initially, Walker viewed making the videos as a side hobby, rarely interacting with his fans and did not reveal his real name until a video responding to the Northern Illinois University shooting. The series had its content withdrawn from YouTube following complaints from 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate over alleged copyright infringement. 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 webmaster Mike Michaud.
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 Doug Walker, the title character. Walker had previously posted his videos on YouTube, but they were repeatedly removed for copyright infringement.
The website was home to several series starring Walker, including 5 Second Movies (hyper-edited feature films), Nostalgia Critic (comedic recaps of bad movies), 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.tv after problems with earlier provider Revver. The website featured videos from a number of other internet producers 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. In 2009, Doug and Rob Walker and 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.
Nostalgia Critic averaged 100,000 to 300,000 viewers per week while on the site, and one million page views per month. This was expected to increase following content-provider Blip.tv's deal with YouTube in July 2009. 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. 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 co-founder/COO Mike Ellis.
During 2011, Michaud was looking for warehouse space in suburban Chicago. 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."
As of June 2011, the company employed seven full-time staff. 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 be having an effect on video entertainment production.
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 universe (or "reviewniverse" as was coined by some of the 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 (NC) and Angry Video Game Nerd rivalry that had been going on for a while. A full length site crossover movie was what was decided for the next year's. It ended up being a trilogy: Kickassia, which had the plot of the NC getting a number of the personalities together to takeover a micro-nation in Nevada; Suburban Knights, where the NC got together much of the same personalities, with a few new ones including Lupa and Todd, to find a mystical gauntlet via forced LARPing by the hider of the lost gauntlet; and To Boldly Flee, where the NC got them together, with new additions including an anime review of the site, Hope Chapman, and French contributor Sadpanda, to travel to space to stop an anomaly, somehow tied to the comedy sidekick the Critic had had up to that point, an in-universe parody of Ma-ti from Captain Planet (played by site founder Bhargav Dronamraju), who died at the end of the last movie, and fight some super powerful and evil corporate entertainment people.
On June 28, 2012, Channel Awesome content producers Doug Walker, Lindsay Ellis (The Nostalgia Chick), Brad Jones (The Cinema Snob), and Todd Nathanson (Todd in the Shadows) signed exclusivity deals with Blip, the video website which directly hosted most That Guy With The Glasses and Channel Awesome programming from 2008 until Blip.tv was shut down in August 2015. The deal did not affect the appearance of the producers' videos on Channel Awesome's That Guy With The Glasses website, and would assist the increase of budget of the four series, as well as provide technical improvements. 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 the Cinema Snob, whose videos were edited down from the original version so that the only way one can see the full video is to go to Blip.
On December 3, 2014, the site shut down and rebranded itself as ChannelAwesome.com.
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.
The new Channel Awesome website debuted in late 2014. All content from That Guy With The Glasses 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), Allison Pregler (Obscurus Lupa) and Phelan Porteus (Phelous). Upon leaving, Allison Pregler accused the site management of abusing talent, hypocrisy and scamming nearly $90,000 from fans with an Indiegogo campaign. Dickman, Porteus, and Pregler went to being exclusively on Phelan's site, Phelous.com. 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 The Nostalgia Critic in September 2008. She intended to continue producing videos for League of Super Critics on YouTube and her own website Chez Apocalypse.
These weren't the first times a site producer had left. 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.
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.
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 was one of the tamer in tone on the site, as Lewis has one of the more wholesome and lighthearted personalities, and did 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 was one of the strongest users of a storyline, which he features in the same videos as his reviews, where he was 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 hosted a separate show where he discusses the history of Power Rangers.
His most noted opinion pieces in comics included sexism and racism from such writer/artists as Scott Lobdell, and Frank Miller; poor artwork, mostly from the nineties, from artists such as Rob Liefeld; and editorial mandate/poor writing mindsets on popular characters such as in the Spider-Man story "One More Day".
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; 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.[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. Vargas is the founder of "The Angry Army", a community specializing in online gaming.
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 two 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; and One Hit Wonderland, in which he examines the careers of one-hit wonders. Cinemadonna, in which Nathanson reviews Madonna's feature filmography, was one of the show's main series until its conclusion in September 2016. 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.
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. Similarly to The Nostalgia Critic, Jones has created additional shows for Channel Awesome including Brad Tries and Midnight Screenings.
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.
On December 15, 2011, Lindsay Ellis (Nostalgia Chick) posted a video about Channel Awesome staff traveling to Washington, D.C. to talk to their senators and representatives about the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act. Ellis, CEO Mike Michaud, Vice President Rob Walker and content producers Noah Antwiler (The Spoony One), Kyle Kallgren (Oancitizen), 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.
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