“We had a wardrobe room and a prop room, and people were going, ‘Does anyone want this?’” Mr. Hecox recalled.
Brian Flanagan, Mythical’s chief operating officer, says the company’s business model is different from those early YouTube companies. While the bulk of Mythical’s revenue comes from advertising, the company doesn’t sell its own ads as multichannel networks did, relying instead on platforms like YouTube and Snapchat for its sales capabilities. And Mythical is focused on creating and owning shows by video creators rather than simply providing services for them.
There are other challenges to running an online video business centered on two stars. Hank and John Green, creators of the popular Vlogbrothers YouTube franchise, said in interviews that YouTube stars don’t “scale” — meaning the same person can’t be in two places at once.
But there are ways around that problem, Hank Green said, such as introducing new hosts on popular shows and giving them spinoffs once viewers become accustomed to them, as NBC did with Frasier from “Cheers.” John Green said that while creators still share ad revenue for some deals with distributors like YouTube, the financial circumstances have improved over the years.
“It was maybe in 2008 or 2009 when a bunch of creators were paid like $5,000 by Carl’s Jr. to eat a burger in a YouTube video,” John Green said, recalling that the sum was considerable for online creators at the time. “Fortunately, they didn’t ask us.”
Mythical’s next chapter is an accelerator program aimed at giving up-and-coming creators capital to start their businesses without resorting to using their father-in-law’s basement.
Mythical will take ownership stakes in those creators’ businesses and advise them, Mr. Neal said, helping them avoid the problems that often trouble creators, such as fatigue and boom-and-bust spending.
“You hear the Lambo stories, you hear the scandal stories, and you hear the burnout stories,” Mr. Neal said. “But the story that we are telling to creators is a story of success and opportunity and health.”