On May 30, digital media company Brat TV released the first episode of the second season of College Years, a spin-off of the Chicken Girls franchise. Since its first episode hit YouTube in 2017, Chicken Girls has become Brat’s biggest hit, growing into a multimedia brand that encompasses books, podcasts, and much more.
College Years, which arrived last year, dives into the collegiate lives of two characters who first appeared within Chicken Girls‘ high school milieu: Birdie (played by Mads Lewis) and Rooney (Indiana Massara). The second season of College Years brings new dimensions to those characters by introducing a fresh series of trials, friendships, and love interests.
Subscribe to get the latest creator news
But College Years is more than a mere spinoff. It’s Brat’s attempt to follow its target audience. Through its signature franchise, Brat has welcomed a devout fan base of Gen Z consumers. As those viewers grow up, adopt different attitudes, and seek new experiences, how will Brat ensure that Chicken Girls remains relevant?
To answer that question, we spoke to several Brat. On the eve of the season two launch of College Years, here’s what Co-Founder Rob Fishman and his team had to say about their evolving approach to Chicken Girls.
Tubefilter: Why do you think the Chicken Girls franchise has resonated with viewers?
Fishman: Back in 2017, Chicken Girls was one of the first original series to bring Hollywood production values to YouTube. Younger audiences, who didn’t have cable subscriptions, loved watching their favorite creators like Jules LeBlanc and Mads Lewis on a free platform like YouTube. The show’s success ushered in a whole generation of young talent, like Mads and Indiana Massara.
Five years—and ten seasons—later, fans are still hooked on the stories and the characters that make the Chicken Girls franchise so enduring. Some of these viewers have grown up, but a whole new generation of fans have found the series, connecting with both the library of episodes, and the new seasons coming out this year.
TF: What was your primary goal for the ‘College Years’ spin-off? Has the show met your expectations for it?
Brat VP of Production Nuria Anson: With many of our fans aging up from middle or high school into college, it made sense to set a new series in a college setting. With two of our longtime stars, Mads Lewis and Indy Massara, on board, we launched College Years last year, and found immediate interest. Our fans flocked to the new series—both a continuation of the Chicken Girls story, and also a brand new chapter for Brat TV, tackling an older set of issues.
The first season also garnered interest from advertisers, with Eos coming on as the title sponsor. Now, with season two premiering shortly, we’re excited to announce that Takis has come on as the lead sponsor of the new season. In terms of driving audience interest and advertiser demand, College Years has really hit the mark.
TF: In College Years, we follow characters who have aged up since their appearances in the main Chicken Girls series. Have you found that your audience has aged up along with those characters, or are you reaching new generations of younger viewers?
Anson: It’s hard to believe that we’re five years old now. Some of our original viewers are now themselves in college, and so it was important to keep them engaged through shows like College Years, as well as a new series we just filmed, called Together Forever, also set in Provincetown (our fictional college campus).
We’ll always cater to a Gen Z audience, but we’ve also been mindful of how many people are encompassed by this demographic—with some younger fans watching our shows like Mani or Charmers, and older viewers tuning in to this new slate of shows. Last year, we also launched a second channel, called Past Your Bedtime, producing video podcasts for an even older audience. On that channel, we’ve launched hit shows like The Comment Section with Drew Afualo, which was recently licensed exclusively by Spotify.
TF: When casting for ‘Chicken Girls’ and its spinoffs, what are you looking for? Do you care at all about follower counts or social media influence, or are you simply looking for the best fits for each role?
Brat Head of Talent Shannon Wachtell: In casting our shows, like Chicken Girls, we consider a variety of factors: acting experience, and engagement on social media, among them. However, we’re mostly looking for talent who connect with our audience. Just having a large following doesn’t always translate to an on-screen connection.
We love working with creators, and giving them a space to showcase a new side of themselves to their audience. Their fans and ours really enjoy seeing these stars play a character outside of what they display on their personal channels. Our sets are a fun and safe space for first-time actors to grow alongside seasoned actors, directors, and crew.
TF: What sort of viewership stats can you share for Chicken Girls? How has viewership for the College Years spinoff compared to the original show?
Fishman: We’ve seen amazing viewership on the latest season of Chicken Girls, with almost 300,000 hours of watch time so far on YouTube. Over half a million viewers tuned in for the premiere. We’re already in the planning stages of Season 11, with some big, new names on the way—in addition to lots of returning talent.
Season 1 of College Years, meanwhile, drew over 5 million views, with almost 500,000 hours of watch time. We’re excited about the launch of Season 2, and planning for a big hit!
TF: As you continue to build the Chicken Girls franchise, do you worry about “viewer fatigue”? What steps do you take to keep the premise fresh and original?
Anson: We’ve worked hard to introduce new characters, storylines, and spin-offs to keep long-time viewers engaged with the franchise. Chicken Girls only airs once a week, so it’s something our fans look forward to in between episodes. With College Years, we’re telling a very different story than what fans see on the flagship show, and so we’re confident that they’ll continue tuning in. No matter which series, we’re always trying to address the real issues that Gen Z is experiencing today, and that’s what ultimately drives tune-in.
TF: How does Brat monetize Chicken Girls and its spinoffs?
Brat Head of Brand Partnerships Terra Sollman: Brands love Brat TV because we bring production value, brand safety, and beloved talent to the platforms of choice for younger audiences. Brat TV viewers don’t need a subscription to view our shows; they’re free on YouTube, Tubi, Roku, and all of the destinations that younger audiences watch every day. We team up with great brands like Eos, Takis, and Disney to co-produce custom storylines in our shows, TV-quality commercials, and media placements across our network of Gen Z channels.
TF: A lot of media companies that cater to Gen Z have struggled to stay afloat financially. How has Brat managed to reverse that trend?
Anson: We try to stay laser-focused on creating differentiated content experiences. There’s a million places online to read lists and recommendations. Instead, our model has been to partner with this generation’s favorite stars, and create content experiences that aren’t accessible anywhere else. Whether that’s College Years with Mads and Indy, or our new slate of podcasts with talent like Drew Afualo, Spencewuah, and the MacDonald Sisters, our talent-driven shows are meant to be uniquely entertaining. That’s made us a destination of choice for talent, and also for advertisers and platforms who have helped support our growing business.
TF: Beyond the shows themselves, how do you engage with the Brat audience?
Wachtell: In addition to our shows, we’re super active on social media—connecting with fans on TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. With the addition of our Past Your Bedtime channel—where we have different guests each week—we’re also getting to interact with a whole different group of creators. Live events aren’t something we’ve done frequently, but we’re exploring the possibilities for the future.
TF: As the Brat audience continues to grow up, will we get more Chicken Girls spinoffs? Any plans to do Twentysomethings after College Years?
Anson: Gen Z is the focus for Brat TV, primarily reaching teens and tweens. While our college-age shows do explore older storylines and situations, they’re still age-appropriate for a younger audience. With the introduction of Past Your Bedtime, however, we’re actively exploring new opportunities to target Gen Z as they age up. Expect more new channels from us in the near future.
[Chicken Girls: College Years airs across Brat’s network of channels. To stay up to date on the show’s second season, subscribe to the Brat YouTube channel.]