Streamy Awards Blue Ribbon Panel Spotlight – Wilson Cleveland | The Streamy Awards

Streamy Awards Blue Ribbon Panel Spotlight – Wilson Cleveland

The Streamy Awards Blue Ribbon Panel is the official voting body of the Streamy Awards. It is a select group comprised of distinguished executives and artists who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to the future of the online entertainment industry. In this series, we shine a spotlight on a few of its members. We get to know these esteemed individuals, as well as their thoughts on the current status and future of online video.

Without further ado, Wilson Cleveland, actor/producer and the founder of UNBOXD (formerly CJP Digital).

Who are you? What’s your business?
My name is Wilson Cleveland, I’m an actor/producer and the founder of UNBOXD (formerly CJP Digital). UNBOXD is a new media and branded entertainment studio wrapped in a PR/marketing agency.

We create, produce and promote original series for brands and media companies. Some of our shows include Leap Year, Suite 7 and The Temp Life, which was actually the first-ever web series created for a brand.

Where do you see the online video industry in 12 months?
The next 12 months could be defined by the two N’s: Nielsen and Netflix.

If Nielsen’s new web video metrics prove credible enough to convince traditional TV execs to at least pay closer attention to how viewers consume their programming online, we could start seeing a change, for better or worse in how and where the networks license their shows. For Netflix, it’s all about how House of Cards is received, not necessarily by critics but I’ll be watching to see if this $100M show is good enough to drive monthly subscriptions. If it does, it could in fact be their first step toward becoming a legit competitor to cable TV.

I also think YouTube will continue expanding its library of original and licensed content. More traditional media companies will make their shows available on the platform, perhaps charging a subscription fee or negotiating greater ad revenue shares. YouTube is essentially becoming the phone book of video entertainment.

What’s your online video utopia? Your ideal vision of what the online video industry would look like?
Great question. Aside from standalone HBO Go, online video utopia for me is more attitudinal than technical. Utopia would be a more universal respect for, and awareness of what we in the online video world are accomplishing and strive to accomplish.

Not to sound too precious, but it’s a world where traditional and new media ranks have the presence of mind to leverage each other’s strengths and experience to create cohesive entertainment instead of road-blocking each other’s ability to adapt, grow and innovate. We have television and web video execs eulogizing the other’s industry with the release of every monthly comScore report. It’s an insufferable drum beat of bravado born from hubris and fear.

What’s the first online video you remember sharing?
Natalie Raps, the second SNL Digital Short after Lazy Sunday. Natalie Portman takes a blowtorch to her nice-girl image then blows the smoke in your face. Remains one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen. I actually discovered YouTube searching for that video the day after it aired.

You work with a lot of brands. Tell us the best and worst parts about making branded entertainment. 
We’ve always taken a subtler, earned media approach to branded entertainment where the client serves as more of an investor or presenting sponsor than an “advertainer.” That is the best thing about creating branded entertainment.

I suppose for me, the less-awesome thing about branded entertainment lies in the general perception that branded entertainment sucks. My mission is to make branded entertainment that tells a good story, is devoid of product placements and can stand on its own with or without that brand attachment.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?
I have my dream job and love what I do, but what people don’t realize is, I’m a one-man band. I work for a very progressive, entrepreneurial agency that believes in this space and allows me the freedom to create, produce and innovate, but my greatest challenge is always finding enough time to do it all. Executive Producing a show is a full-time job so I’m always grateful to work with top-notch partners like Happy Little Guillotine who can take on all of the production duties.

But aside from that, I’m doing everything from pitching new shows to clients, dealing with agents and managers, drafting contracts, negotiating media buys, managing distribution and social media, designing creative and building the audience. Plus, I’m usually acting in the shows I create and that’s the part of my job I love the most. Again, I love what I do and choose to do it this way but it can be overwhelming at times.

What’s the latest and greatest online video you watched?
I thought it was impossible for me to love Parker Posey any more until I watched her Emmy Speech Master Class video. Total laugh aneurysm.

You can follow Wilson Cleveland on Twitter at @wilsoncleveland. And be sure to check out UNBOXD on the web at

Click here to see the list of this year’s nominees.

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