Innovation Awards profiles: 360 Production – online content creation

Bought the T-Shirt: staff at the Derry office of UK content creation company, 360 Production

Bought the T-Shirt: staff at the Derry office of UK content creation company, 360 Production


Next time you search the web for the answer to a science-related question, there’s a more than even chance that you will be directed to a video on YouTube produced in the Derry office of UK content creation specialist, 360 Production.

Founded five years ago by former BBC and ITV executive Jack Farren, the company’s stated mission is to present science and history on YV, online and on mobile.

Among the firm’s latest innovations is the YouTube channel Head Squeeze. It features James May of Top Gear fame along with a team of scientists, mathematicians and comedians offering insights into the latest developments in science, technology and maths. The programmes also answer the most-asked scientific questions in a way that is easy to understand and enjoyable to watch.

“Head Squeeze is the brainchild of its series producer Catherine Ross who had the idea a number of years ago,” says 360 Production researcher Sarah Ashley-Cantello.

YouTube had started up a series of different channels in the US and then decided to do the same in the UK. 360 pitched the Head Squeeze concept and it was accepted as one of 60 channels to be established in 2012.

Head Squeeze community
“It was launched in December 2012 and took on a life of its own during 2013,” says Ashley-Cantello.

“We have 300,000 subscribers who are part of the Head Squeeze community and we have had more than 15 million hits since launch. We are really thrilled that there is such an appetite for it.”

Part of what makes the Head Squeeze offering so different and so popular is that it is made by a traditional television production company which has begun to produce original content solely for the YouTube platform.

Previously, producers had tended to simply repurpose existing content for YouTube. 360 makes content specifically created for the platform.

“The experience of working in YouTube has been transformative for us as well”, Ashley-Cantello notes. “We are learning a lot from the medium. The interactivity with the audience is very different to TV and that has been very interesting for us.”

Funding model
The funding model is also very different.

Initial finance for the channel came from YouTube and BBC Worldwide and 360 is currently exploring different funding models.

“This is an exciting new frontier,” says development producer David Starkey. “We hope to look at different funding sources such as sponsorship and so on. It is very much a brave new world out there.”

An hour of additional content is put up on Head Squeeze each week and the success of the channel has already led to the establishment of a sister channel, Head STEAM. It will promote science, technology, engineering, arts as well as maths education and careers. Funding for the Head STEAM channel is from Northern Ireland Screen.

“We will refine our model so that Head Squeeze can become a sustainable, self-funded channel,” Ashley-Cantello adds.

“We intend to find new ways of interacting with our audience, and deliver more of what they want.

“We want to keep learning how to best utilise the tools available on YouTube to the best advantage.”

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