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Can SyFy create the next great viral video?

In Viral Video Showdown, which premieres tonight, teams compete on a budget to create clips worth of Internet fame. 


Jordan Valinsky


If there is a formula for creating a viral video, SyFy is attempting to crack it.

Debuting Tuesday night, Viral Video Showdown pits video producers against each other to see who can make the most share-worthy video. Each week, two teams will have four days, a $4,000 budget, and a theme to follow to create a viral video. Like Tosh.O, the show, which is hosted by Attack of the Show! creator Kevin Pereira, essentially turns YouTube into a cable program.

“It’s a competition show for the new generation show of what’s really happening,” producer SallyAnn Salsano told the Daily Dot.

Salsano compared the show’s format to that of Bravo’s Top Chef but for viral videos. (Sadly, there’s no Padma Lakshmi). She said the challenge about creating a viral video is it needs to not only entice people more than to watch it but force people to share it on Facebook and forward it to friends.

“It either has to have amazing special effects, laugh out loud funny, and be kind of unexpected,” Salsano said. “They can’t be long and must grab everyones attention span.”

Concocting that formula sounds easy enough, but in true reality-show fashion, Salsano said the teams face obstacles that are out of their control, such as filming locations not being available.

“There are systems crashing, beat-the-clock scenarios, and a couple of them, which I do not understand, try to use a new [editing] program,” Salsano teased. “Why would you try to something with a time-sensitive video?”

Teams competing on the show vary in background, from students fresh out of college to film industry professionals and ordinary folks trying for Internet fame. A few teams casted for the eight-episode run have a large Internet following, offered Salsano, most notably special effects pros FinalCutKing, sketch group Half Day Today, and comedians Frog Island Flicks.

To win the weekly $5,000 prize, the two teams have to impress a panel of judges who know a thing about viral videos: Sandeep Parikh (director of the Web series The Guild), YouTube celebrity Brittani Louise Taylor, and former host of G4’s X-Play Adam Sessler. Guest judges include Keenan Cahill, Amber Lee Ettinger (“Obama Girl”), and Andy Milonakis.


“They all come at it from different perspectives and knows what is possible for viral videos,” said Salsano.

Ironically, the videos created on the series will be released shortly after airing, but not on YouTube, which is where many—if not all—viral videos get their start. Instead, the videos will be released only on SyFy’s website due to network restrictions, though the channel’s video player also has embedded codes to share.

Salsano said that won’t be a problem for the videos to achieve true virality since the television show will maximize the video’s exposure.

Photo via SyfyImagineGreater/YouTube

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