With this trailer, World of Wonder productions announced WOW Presents Plus, a $3.99 (US) over-the-top streaming video platform housing “the best” content from around the World of Wonder “network.” Building an OTT service is both the obvious business move in the age of streaming video and a somewhat unlikely play by a relatively small, independent player in the US media industries. Then again, World of Wonder is an unlikely production company in many ways. Run by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato throughout its 28-year existence, WOW has produced documentary features and reality television series that have been distributed by a diverse array of industry players, including HBO, Bravo, Logo, VH1 and Viceland. This trailer is maximalist, demonstrating the depth of the WOW catalog and the array of personalities including within it, including its roster of YouTube series starring former RuPaul's Drag Race contestants performing in front of an extremely clockable green screen. Though the WOW Presents Plus audience is potentially niche, the ever-expanding roster of shows starring Drag Race alums means WOW is well-positioned to harness the show’s incredibly involved fanbase to kickstart this new business venture. And though YouTube has not been hostile to WOW content, YouTube is also promoting their own subscription services and the original content produced for them. In an era where data is the most important commodity in the media industries, owning both platform and content is a smart strategy. Currently, WOW keeps some ongoing series--especially post-show Drag Race recaps and fashion analyses--on YouTube while also posting trailers for its WOW Presents Plus content. For the time being, this strategy mitigates some concern that the company is abandoning YouTube altogether. It also makes one wonder what's to stop them from doing so in the future.
Thanks for your post, Austin! This is such an important area for consideration. It really has amazed me to see how big a footprint World of Wonder has made in its almost 30 years of nonfiction production, especially in its focus on marginalized identities in American culture. I'm curious how you see this move to work in terms of legitimation strategies for WoW, especially considering the company's base was largely in documentary before venturing into Drag Race opened a whole new world for it in reality TV and online series.
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