Television died today. The date is April 20015. Rui Unas has nearly a million followers over several online platforms, as he announces, live on Periscope, the death of television.
Ironically, the announcement is made from a TV studio, minutes before Unas goes live as a guest on the portuguese talk show 5 para a meia-noite. While unsuspecting viewers watch late night TV at home, around 20 people, connected to a new iPhone app, realize nothing will be the same again.
If someone is qualified to evaluate the health condition of TV, is it's self-proclaimed Lord. To find out more about how Rui Unas sees the role of the internet in the media world and his own career, I asked him some questions. A few hours later, I had the answers on my computer.
First, a little history
14 years ago, Rui Unas was the host of Curto Circuito on SIC Radical and already had a legion of followers that stuck to the show since it's debut, at CNL, in 1999. I was taking my first steps online and had the idea of gathering all those funny text messages for early mobile phones on a website.
Curto Circuito was live for 3 hours every day and already had a space for sharing cool internet websites. That's how I met Rui Unas for the first time - I was invited to talk about my site FunSMS.com on live TV.
Six years later, I created Gam3r.net and was invited to host Espaço PlayStation, a segment about videogames on Curto Circuito. For 18 months I kept the weekly ritual of presenting videogames at Valentim de Carvalho studios, but Rui Unas was no longer hosting the show.
At the end of July 2009, CC suspended their daily broadcast and went on holidays, for the first time in a decade. That interruption coincided with my decision to leave the show and commit only to the internet again. To this day I regret not waiting a couple of months before leaving...
Curto Circuito returned in September, celebrating it's tenth anniversary. For a whole month, Rui Unas took back the controls of the show. It was an amazing month, history was made and audience records were shattered. The Lord of portuguese television was back to CC, seven years later.
During that short time, Rui Unas reunited with his audience, after being apart for too long. But this was not enough. It didn't take long for this connection to move to YouTube, where he gathered 150.000 subscribers and millions of views.
Since then, the Lord is in touch with his fans through several social networks, regardless of his TV appearances.
Rui Unas takes the stage
We're back in 2015, television's corpse is still warm and Rui Unas answers my questions.
Currently, how do you define yourself professionally?
Hardly. I may define myself as an entertainer. I try to exercise as much as possible the communication side, but the artistic, acting and comedy aspects are always present.
Behind the entertainer, is there a digital marketer that plans and implements online marketing strategies?
I don't make plans. I believe my name and work are a brand that I have to promote. I don't have a strategy, I rely on intuition and common sense.
Recently, you announced the death of TV, on Periscope. However, you work regularly on TV, cinema, radio and theater. How do you see the future of the more traditional entertainment industry?
As a consumer I see... very little. The "traditional" forms of entertainment have to adapt and look at the internet not just as a "friendly partner" but also as a "competitor", if we're talking about a younger audience.
In which social networks are you active at the moment? Do you know how many people follow you?
I don't keep tabs on the number, but I am active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
You have more than 700.000 fans on Facebook alone. Did you feel the huge drop in reach that Facebook imposed on brands in the last couple of years?
Since I don't keep track, I didn't notice any drop in reach.
Tell me about Twitter. Do you have a special care for this network or do you use it only for sharing the content you publish elsewhere?
Twitter serves me mostly for sharing what I publish on other networks. With Periscope, I will be more mindful of what I post there.
Podcasts are a growing trend in the United States, are you a fan of the format?
I'm a fan, I have some past experience (Maluco Beleza) and I am planing to get back to podcasting with version 2.0 .
One year ago, you revealed you didn't make money off the internet. Is that different now?
Yes, directly not much, but indirectly. I have been hired because of my following and I have some sponsored content.
What do you get from the internet that money can't pay?
"Street credit", or in this case, "net credit". People see me, know that I am active, that I create content...
Did you ever buy ads to increase the reach of your online content?
Some of your colleagues hire other people to manage their social networks, what do you think of that strategy?
You became very popular between 1999 and 2005 with Curto Circuito and Cabaret da Coxa. Do you feel YouTube brought back that creative liberty and audience?
CC was a pioneer in promoting engagement with the audience through the internet, before social networks existed. How do you remember those days?
Slow. The internet was very slow at the time.
With O Show do Unas at SIC Radical, do you feel that you created the YouTube show format before YouTube?
It's possible. That format with jump cuts was ahead of it's time.
Some of your most popular videos are professional productions, created for a large audience. Which videos surprised you the most because of the number of views they got?
Me and Morgado singing Bo tem Mel. I never thought it would become viral.
You have created a true studio in your attic. What kind of material and investment do you recommend to build a home studio?
I have a digital camera and I invested a few dozen euros on light and a microfone that I connect to the smartphone. That's enough to start the party.
Would you advise anyone without a previously established TV or radio audience, to work as an entertainer online? Is it possible to become a professional youtuber in Portugal?
I don't know if it's possible to be a professional youtuber in Portugal... I think some gamers do pretty well on YouTube. I believe that if the content is good, original and regular, sooner or later you'll become popular. But, unless it's international, it's hard to make some real money.
To end this conversation, let me get back to Periscope. What can we expect from the Unas Periscope in the future?
I will go with the flow. Right now, I am having fun, finding out what works, what people expect and what they enjoy the most.
Thank you very much, Rui!