How to Relaunch a 150-Year-Old Magazine on YouTube 🚀

Vsauce2 is producing Popular Science’s YouTube channel

Good morning. Of all the creator boxing matches we've seen over the past five years, this may be the oddest yet: Jake Paul vs. Mike Tyson, live on Netflix this July. Tyson is exactly 30 years Paul's senior and has boxed for nearly as long as Paul has been alive...who you got?

The host of Vsauce2, Kevin Lieber (left), and its producer Matthew Tabor (middle), will host on Popular Science’s (right) relaunched YouTube channel / Vsauce2, Matthew Tabor, Popular Science

Educational creators Kevin Lieber and Matthew Tabor, the duo behind STEM YouTube brand Vsauce2, have teamed up with Popular Science to help relaunch the 150-year-old magazine’s YouTube channel.

What intrigued them most? Tabor told us it was the magazine’s extensive library of original work, something that is “virtually impossible” for a modern digital media brand to replicate.

“And then you look at something like Popular Science that started three years before the telephone came out,” Tabor said.

Context: PopSci started uploading videos back in 2006, but the magazine took a break in 2023 to rethink its content strategy.

Its new approach will center around four new series types, including documentary deep dives and science concept visualizations, PopSci editor-in-chief Annie Colbert wrote in a blog post.

That’s where Lieber and Tabor come in. The duo brings over a decade of experience creating educational and entertaining videos for a YouTube-first audience. They’ve grown Vsauce2 to over 4.5 million subscribers since 2010.

Now, they’re taking creative control of—and are on-camera hosts for—the main PopSci channel, drawing on the magazine’s century-plus of reporting to tell modern-day stories and contextualize them within science history (starting with a video titled “The $15,000 A.I. from 1983” on Wednesday).

Zoom out: Rather than treat this as a “side hustle” that “fizzles out” in a year, Lieber said they decided to go full-time on PopSci and even promote the relaunch on Vsauce2 “simply because we want to.”

“It’s in our best interest and general hope that as many people as possible come to witness the new channel,” he told us. “It’s just a different framework to work within when you have the legacy and name of Popular Science.”

Rooster Teeth Shuts Down After Two Decades

Warner Bros. Discovery shuts down Rooster Teeth, the production company behind original shows such as “RWBY” (left) and “Red vs. Blue” (right) / Rooster Teeth 

Rooster Teeth (RT), the entertainment company known for producing popular comedy web series such as “Red vs. Blue” and gaming-centric content, is shutting down after 21 years, according to Variety.

RT General Manager Jordan Levin attributed the decision to “fundamental shifts in…platforms, advertising, and patronage” in a memo he shared with staff.

Context: Cofounded by a group of Austin-based creatives, RT started uploading web series to its site in 2003 before moving most of its free content to YouTube in 2008.

  • RT was an early adopter of digital media business strategies including paid subscriptions, YouTube preroll ads, and licensed studio productions.

  • At its peak, the company counted over 400 employees, 225,000 paying members, and 45 million combined YouTube subscribers across its channels.

But after a series of mergers with bigger media companies, an unprofitable RT’s paying subscriber count dropped to 60,000. It eventually became a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Discovery, which is now looking to sell off parts of RT’s content catalog (including its growing Roost Podcast Network, which will continue operations).

The creator response: Gaming streamer Ludwig Ahgren said that RT was an inspiration for him and many of his peers, but he thinks problems such as workplace misconduct and “sell[ing] out” are what ultimately led to RT’s downfall.

“I’m hoping to avoid [these problems] by making [my company] Offbrand a workers co-op, where all of the workers are owning the company and getting to decide what they do, what they make,” Ahgren said in a recent video.

A U.S. TikTok Ban Is Back on the Table

The U.S. government inches closer to banning TikTok across the country / Illustration by Moy Zhong

The House Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday unanimously approved a bill that would ban TikTok from U.S. app stores unless its Chinese parent company, Bytedance, divests and sells TikTok to a U.S.-based company. 

Read the room: TikTok’s future in the U.S. has been threatened for the last four years over lawmakers’ concerns that the Chinese government could access user data. 

What makes this ban different: “It feels more serious than ever because the bill is so narrow,” Vitus “V” Spehar of Under The Desk News told us.

  • The bill would impose a penalty of $5,000 per active user per day on app stores that have TikTok available to download.

  • Spehar noted that selling TikTok, valued at $50 billion, wouldn’t be easy. Experts suggest it’s too expensive for most companies to buy. 

Big picture: Between a potential TikTok ban and Meta’s brief outages this week, social platforms are feeling volatile for some creators. But Spehar says they plan to stay the course on TikTok.

“I’m not going to funnel my viewers to Meta—they aren’t much better with user data,” Spehar said. “The culture of TikTok is where I’m successful and I'll go down with the ship and continue to advocate for creators on there.”

🔥 Press Worthy

  • MatPat is livestreaming his final Game Theory video tomorrow at 5pm EST.

  • Fiverr has recently revamped their Creator Program and is now seeking creators on all platforms (not just YouTube) to pay and partner with in 2024.*

  • Miranda Goes Outside revamps her channel and relocates to a ski town.

  • Nikon acquires U.S. camera manufacturer RED.

  • Josh Richards launches an entertainment newsletter.

  • Reesa Teesa, creator of the TikTok series “Who TF Did I Mary,” signs with CAA.

*This is sponsored advertising content.

📚️ Thank You For Pressing Publish

The content we’re looking forward to reading, watching, and listening to this weekend.

  • Read: For Rest of World, Caiwei Chen explores the NYC livestream studios teaching creators how to sell products on TikTok Shop.

  • Watch: Art creator Gawx breaks down how he films cinematic shots from his bedroom.

  • Listen: Comedy trio Please Don’t Destroy share the details of the SNL pitch process on Mike Birbiglia’s Working It Out.

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