"What's Trending," a fresh weekly live interactive talk show that airs on the YouTube channel network, has recently switched to a daily five-day format. The major upgrade is another indicator of how YouTube has successfully nurtured an environment of discovery, independence and innovation for the site's artists and creators that traditional media has not.
At the helm of the 24/7 news hub "What's Trending" is media empress Shira Lazar. Lazar, while being the host and executive producer of the show, is also the host and creator of the YouTube talk show "Partners Project," which specializes in interviewing stars of the YouTube network.
"What's Trending" now airs at 12 p.m. Monday through Friday and offers its viewers access to daily live-streaming video content, including music performances, daily celebrity interviews and even a "Hot On YouTube" video recap. The show has already been nominated for a prime time Emmy Award and has even been graced by the likes of celebrities such as Hollywood director Spike Lee and Virgin Group billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson. But with all that Lazar and "What's Trending" co-founder and CEO Damon Berger have accomplished thus far, it's hard to believe that the show is so young.
"I think for 'What's Trending,' we were always going to be a brand that was daily, and so it was just a matter of when it was going to happen," Lazar told IBTimes. "So it really is a huge achievement going from a show that's once a week to five times a week."
While the show contains a wide body of content, most of it comes straight from the YouTube network. With thousands of YouTube shows and channels in existence, the movement is becoming stronger than ever with regular people becoming stars overnight via the video-sharing program.
"I think it's amazing to see the talent and the individuals that have taken to YouTube to build their careers themselves," Lazar said. "We came at a time when we could have gone either route. We could have gotten jobs at huge companies. ... But to really innovate right now, we believe you need to do it on the outside."
Lazar, a well-known personality in the media world, has made regular appearances discussing Internet culture and digital trends on major networks such as CBS News, Bloomberg TV, CNN and Fox News channel. With so much opportunity to create a production with the help of one of the above networks, one has to ask, "why YouTube?"
"It's a very rare thing to have the support within a major traditional company that allows you to experiment and find out what the audience wants," Berger told IBTimes. "I think that we were able to do that with 'What's Trending,' and I think that this goes for the whole YouTube and online ecosystem when it comes to independent creation."
The YouTube channel network, a database centered on artists such as musicians, filmmakers, comedians and athletes, gives creators an opportunity to hone their skills and essentially build larger audiences.
"It's something that really allows you to create from the heart and do what your audience wants," Berger said. "It's also a really interesting freedom that you have that I don't think you necessarily get within those big companies.
With the YouTube channel network, as well as shows like "What's Trending," being so young, the stage is essentially set for Lazar and those like her to pave the way for the media revolution to come.
The last five years has seen the advent of a number of new platforms in which content can be delivered including the iPad, Android and several other touchscreen tablets, all of which make shows like "What's Trending" more accessible.
"We see a future where content is available on every screen, it just depends on how you want to experience it," Lazar said. "And YouTube is a big part of that. With Google TV obviously coming up and the brand of personalities on YouTube getting more audiences than cable networks, those brands are going to be brands that consumers recognize. And so I think it's all going to come together and merge in many ways ... but right now, I think we're in a time of emergence of new platforms and new brands."
According to Lazar, the top 10 YouTube channels currently have a bigger audience than the top 10 cable networks today. While specific numbers weren't available, the idea would seem to justify Google's purchase of the video-sharing website for $1.65 billion back in 2006.
Meanwhile, as "What's Trending" enters its second week as a daily formatted show, it looks to the future as place for stars of all calibers to thrive.
"When you look at the guests that we want to have, it's a combination of these great independent YouTube creators, but it's also providing a platform for traditional celebrities to have a place online where they're comfortable," Berger said. "There's not a lot out there right now that they are comfortable with in terms of being on a digital talk show, and I think that speaks volumes to Shira and her star power to be able to attract the kinds of people we get on the show, whether it's Richard Branson or Snoop Dogg. I think that we've really created a place that they feel comfortable to be on."
Berger and Lazar currently have their hands full with the seemingly successful show that they are calling a "new-school MTV for the YouTube generation." The duo goes on to relate what MTV did for music videos to what they hope to do for YouTube videos.
"There's a culture that's emerging out of this platform, and it's really a revolutionary kind of a thing. It's like we see these young kids who don't even turn on a TV anymore, but they'll spend three to four hours on YouTube, Lazar said. "But we've just scratched the surface. So we're constantly thinking to ourselves, how big can we build this? The sky is the limit!"