12 STREAMPUNK OP Talent
OP Talent represents some of the world’s top YouTubers. It’s founder tells us it takes more than a webcam and a smile to become an internet success MANAGING THE INFLUENCERS
P Talent was a launched by Liam Chivers in 2012. Since then, the London- based talent agency has become a subsidiary of Endemol Shine and represents some of the world’s top YouTubers, including KSI, Ali-A and AzzyLand. But before Chivers became an agent for YouTubers, he was a fan. He explains: “I was sales director at Bertelsmann in the gaming division within the Arvato group and I started watching YouTube for two reasons. First, to keep an eye on game release schedules – going into a company and not knowing anything about your game is embarrassing. But then because I had children and would have to stay in on Fridays, and started playing Call of Duty with other dads online. I started watching gamers on YouTube, so I could be a better player and beat those other dads.” One of those gamers was Sam Betesh (aka xJawz), a YouTuber who built a huge following around Call of Duty. Cut to Chivers at the E3 games convention in 2012, in his position at Bertelsmann. “I was at the Activision stand and saw a YouTuber who I recognised. [It was Betesh/ xJawz.] This was a trade event – everyone in suits – and this guy was in ripped jeans and a T-shirt, and he had a fake badge on. YouTubers weren’t considered to be anyone then. They were just kids in their bedrooms,” he recalls.
So Chivers introduced himself. “He noticed I had a particular iPhone case – a Call of Duty case I’d been given at the Activision stand. I gave it to him.” To Chivers, it was just trade-show swag. To Betesh, it was an exclusive piece of merchandise, which he was then able to tweet out to his followers. Chivers had one YouTube follower – his wife. Tagged in Betesh’s tweet, he earned 800 more in just a few hours. Betesh had come to E3 to meet someone who would give him a sneak peek at a new Xbox controller. He unboxed the controller at the show in a stairwell and it quickly earned half a million views. Chivers and Betesh stayed in touch – and that connection was the spark that launched OP Talent. “All the Call of Duty community was talking about this video. I asked him if he’d gotten paid for it – he basically established this guy’s business. He said, ‘No, but they let me keep the controller‘, before admitting he needed an agent.” Chivers helped Betesh arrange an affiliate cut of the sales of the controller, earning Betesh a few thousand dollars. Chivers also introduced him to other gaming companies, through which he picked up a few more sponsors. YouTuber Ali-A, at that time a big Call of Duty player, contacted him. Ali-A flew out to meet Chivers at Gamescom in Cologne,
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