The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined how the sports and entertainment industries operate. Professional leagues have been halted or postponed, while WWE pre-taped its WrestleMania event without a live audience. However, others are using the shutdown as a way to spark innovation in gaming, all while satisfying fans.
Preston Arsement, professionally known as YouTube’s “PrestonPlayz,” has refocused his gaming content to shift his brand back to what initially made him popular on the streaming platform — all while keeping his support staff employed.
“It’s about creating content during a time when people most need it,” he said. “It’s been going well and the audience has doubled.”
Arsement, 25, started streaming at 14 years old with popular shooter video games such as “Call of Duty” and “Fortnite.” However, he developed his niche playing the child-friendly, open-world game “Minecraft.” He operates seven YouTube channels, has recorded five billion views, and earns $14 million in yearly revenue. He is the CEO of TBNR, which stands for “the best never rest.”
Last year, he began streaming less on the video game side and began focusing more on his popular in-real-life (IRL) channel where audiences see a playful side of him that includes family-friendly pranks and challenges with other famous YouTube personalities.
“When you create a real-life video, it’s like creating a mini video game,” he said.
With states and local governments placing stay-at-home orders throughout the country, Arsement shifted his strategy to not only experiment with new content that his audience needs, but to also offer an escape from the real world.
“With a team of 25, I still want to put out content during a pandemic while keeping employees away from risk,” he said.
Arsement is recognizing the challenges but welcoming the new normal. Some of this new content includes collaborations with other YouTubers to provide gaming content, repurposing existing videos and creating similar IRL videos but with a gaming twist. He’s pumping out about six videos a week across his channels.
“It’s a great time to capture new content,” he said. “It’s been really fun.”
He also created video challenges to raise money for charity organizations such as the World Health Organization, Meals on Wheels and local organizations based in the Dallas area.
“Audiences have been enjoying the content so far. It’s been wild,” he said.
He’s bullish on how this new reality will make his team more efficient. So far he’s been right: Viewership has grown nearly 50% and brand deals are pouring in.
Brands have also continued to work with him on creating new content and using existing content.
“Brands have been gung-ho with whatever content we’ll come out with,” he said. “They are able to ship products [merchandise] and adjust to the new creative ideas my team comes up with.”
Arsement is looking to keep momentum. He’s hiring a couple of editors and a social media manager.
“The videos we’ve been doing have been growing and growing,” he said. “I don’t see it slowing down.”