Tongal Flips the Script on Content Creation

JamesDeJulioRecently TIDAL announced a partnership with LeBron James’ digital media company, UNINTERRUPTED, to exclusively premiere Becoming Bobby Feeno, a docu-series that’s part of a new wave of community-created content. Tongal co-founder and president James DeJulio explains how the global creator network is rewriting the rules for original entertainment.

Cynopsis: How is the development model for Tongal different?

James DeJulio: Creating on Tongal means you’re not looking for projects and ideas in the same place everyone else is looking—and then only seeing them after Netflix does. Basically, we’ve flipped the entire development process on its head so that the needle in the haystack can find you. Our model is about statistically enabling extreme value outcomes by connecting people who need content with an exponential number of people who can create it. Plus, since anyone anywhere can participate, we’re an instant pipeline to diversity of both ideas and talent. For networks and studios, tapping into our global network of 150,000+ creators gives them a way to access the most passionate talent for every job with more transparent and straightforward economics that are aligned to digital revenue streams and can be profitable. 

Cynopsis: What shows are in the pipeline?

DeJulio: Becoming Bobby Feeno is the latest original series to be developed by the Tongal community. The docu-series follows Arian Foster, former NFL Pro Bowl running back, from his mid-season retirement through recording his debut album under the name Bobby Feeno. The series was first incubated on the Tongal platform, where our creative community pitched their vision for bringing Foster’s story to life. Uninterrupted then came on to produce the series, with TIDAL signing on to distribute it. “Becoming Bobby Feeno” is part of a new wave of community-created content and an example of how we’re rewriting the rules for the way original entertainment is made.

Earlier this year, we created a pilot for CW Seed based on Wattpad’s hit novel Cupid’s Match. By taking a story with a built-in fan base—it has over 40 million reads on Wattpad—and inviting our community to bring it to life for CW Seed, we were able to create a show that was truly by the fans, for the fans from start to finish.

Next month, our first-of-its-kind late-night TV special for Nat Geo WILD will premiere. For this project, Nat Geo used the Tongal platform to invite fans everywhere to co-create with the network to develop an unorthodox, animal-centric special. It will feature segments from 20+ creators around the world. 

Cynopsis: What do you look for in a partnership?

DeJulio: We look for partners who know the value of using content to build community. There’s nothing more powerful than a passionate fan base, and we like to work with networks, studios and brands who understand the importance of tapping into these communities and empowering them to help tell their story. These days, that’s really the only way to find depth and sustainability on the internet.

The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at Lynn@Cynopsis.com.

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