Case Study

Riding Celebrity Snark to Stardom

Six Figures From Vlogging? 'What the Buck?!?'

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The Creators: Michael Buckley is the star and creator of the breakout YouTube series "What the Buck," a celebrity gossip show. Prior to launching his Web series in 2007, he worked as an executive assistant at concert promoter Live Nation. In September, he left that job to work on "What the Buck" full-time. In addition to the advertising revenue he generates from YouTube, Mr. Buckley also has a development deal with HBO and is working on a new Web series for Sony's the Minisode Network. All told, he's earning a six-figure income from his online video work, he said.

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The Distributors: "What the Buck" runs three times a week on YouTube. "I am really a person who believes in YouTube," he said. "I have not seen much success on other places and have never watched a video on Yahoo or another site. So YouTube is the destination site for videos and I want people to go there." Since launch, his videos have been viewed more than 100 million times. He generates 200,000 or more views per episode.

The Sponsors: "What the Buck" is part of the YouTube partner program. Advertisers sold by YouTube in Mr. Buckley's show have included Sony and a number of movie studios, among others.

The Backstory: Before starting his Web show, Mr. Buckley co-hosted a live show on public access in Connecticut. A segment of that show covered celebrity gossip and became the inspiration for "What the Buck" when Mr. Buckley's cousin began posting those portions of the show on YouTube. After a video on Jennifer Hudson earned more than 200,000 views, Mr. Buckley caught YouTube fever. "My adrenaline kicked in and I said 'I want more views,'" he said. In December of 2007 he bought a camera and started filming "What the Buck" on a regular basis.

The Content: In each three- to five-minute episode, Mr. Buckley takes on celebrity gossip in his signature high-pitched, super-fast, witty tone. A one-man operation, Mr. Buckley shoots and edits each episode from his desk in the second bedroom of his Connecticut home. Endgame: "I am sure TV and traditional media opportunities will present themselves but I was born in this new media and am comfortable with this," he said.