As the executive producer of America’s Funniest Home Videos, Vin Di Bona has been championing user-generated content since 1989. Today’s unveiling of Petsami, created by Di Bona and Bruce Gersh’s cross-platform production company FishBowl Worldwide Media, therefore seems like a natural extension of that brand into the online and on-demand world. Except on Petsami, the hosts have fur, feathers or scales instead of a union card.
Audience interaction and engagement is a big part of the initiative. In addition to the Petsami programming available on YouTube, users will be able to further engage and learn more about the shows and characters on Petsami.com, an interactive platform to include blogs, photos and behind the scenes videos, message boards and other social channels. Several Petsami stars already have their own Twitter accounts.
The channel is launching with six programs. One is CuteWinTail, which has its roots in CuteWinFail, a series made in collaboration with DeFranco Inc. Having debuted in Sept. 2010, that earlier show has averaged 1.2 million viewers for each of its first 66 episodes. The new weekly CuteWinTail presents three clips and lets audiences decide which is the “most epic,” concluding each episode with a “Pet of the Week.”
The other five new shows put critters even more in charge of the program. Taking them in alphabetical order, they are:
- Ask a Tiger, in which Sabin the Nepalese tiger offers his undomesticated advice for household pets seeking help, illustrating his points with comedic user-generated clips as examples of animal-human interaction.
- How2BCute, in which Hoshi the Hamster, Ivanna Iguana and Gus the Guppy interacting with viewers and others using snarky yet funny comments, demonstrating how much cooler they are than any two-legged creature.
- Klip Kat is named after its feline host, who stays in the comfort of her Venice apartment as she shares her take on favorite cat clips and invites users to submit their own LOL-speak captions for the four-legged stars.
- Leash is a weekly news magazine show that profiles true stories of amazing animals from around the world. Its host is Monkey, a dog who allows actress, animal advocate and former journalist Lu Parker care for him and serve as the show’s executive producer.
- One Minute Meerkat translates what meerkats are probably thinking and saying into language humans can understand.
Fishbowl already is working on two future Petsami shows as well. One will be a pet food cooking show hosted by Clark G, the talking dog that so far has attracted over 88 million views for his “Ultimate Dog Tease” video on YouTube. The other will involve cats and an unspecified philanthropic twist, and will be executive produced by Carrie Ann Inaba (best known for ABC’s Dancing with the Stars).
“Petsami allows us to leverage our incredible library of curated user generated content to bring a new, fun and comic twist to current animal programming,” said Bruce Gersh, president and CEO of FishBowl. “The YouTube channel expands beyond a viewing channel to a specific destination that entertains, engages and encourages conversations with YouTube audiences and beyond.”
Celebrity trainer and animal advocate Laura Nativo serves as creative director of the Petsami platform. Her previous television credits include CBS’ Greatest American Dog and GSN’s Dog Park Superstars.
David Beebe, vice president and general manager of FishBowl’s Digital Studio said, “The expansion of YouTube and Google’s social platforms allows users both video and social experience around content, making it the perfect home for Petsami.”