The name Wayans has long been associated with anything funny. So the fact that earlier this month Damon Wayans launched WayOutTV.com, an Internet site in collaboration with Google’s YouTube, should come as no surprise. WayOutTV.com will showcase videos produced by emerging young comedians selected by Wayans.
The Wayans family has a venerable comedy brand. Damon and his brothers Keenen, Marlon, and Shawn, and sister Kim have long brought a selective and distinctive style of satire to film and television shows such as Hollywood Shuffle, I’m Gonna Git YouSucka, the groundbreaking In Living Color, and My Wife and Kids.
WayOutTV.com joins the trend of other celebrity comedians hitting consumers directly with comedy product including Will Ferrell’s FunnyorDie.com and MyDamn-Content.com by Harry Shearer. Further, the site hits at a most opportune time as the entertainment environment continues to evolve toward a world of on-demand leisure. Appointment television of days past, according to many analysts, is on death row, if it isn’t dead already. Consumers, particularly young audiences, prefer to watch entertainment content when and wherever they want.
WayOutTV.com aligns with an upward trend in terms of African American online usage. According to the 2007 Media Audit by Houston-based International Demographics, African Americans spend 117 minutes per day online—up from 68 minutes in 2006. Additionally, given that recent Nielsen reports suggest that African Americans are the earliest adapters to new media devices and content relative to other groups should also bode well for Wayans’ new venture.
As the Web proves to be a place for more and more content providers to introduce their product to audiences, analysts contend that branding will be the key competitive advantage to an increasingly cluttered marketplace. Because barriers to entry are low, allowing anyone with a digital video camera, a computer, and determination, to place a video on YouTube, name recognition and quality will determine who wins eyeballs and repeat visitors. And with the name Wayans, Damon could clearly be way ahead of the pack.
George Alexander’s column on the business of entertainment appears weekly at blackenterprise.com. He is the author of “Why We Make Movies” (Random House, $15.95).