How to teach an old roommate new tricks

With help from some social influencers, the creators of CBC's My 90-Year-Old Roommate aim to find new audiences for the series' second season.
My 90 Year Old Roommate

Ethan Cole knows the power of YouTube. Cole’s YouTube series Explaining Things to my Grandfather, co-created with Josh Shultz, garnered more than 3 million views on the platform and led to a deal with CBC for the scripted digital series My 90-Year-Old Roommate. 

Now, the CSA-winning comedy is back, and the show’s creative team is turning once again to YouTube and its social superstars to help expand the show’s reach for season two (12 x 10 minutes).

Produced by Geoff LaPaire, and executive produced by LoCo Motion Pictures’ Lauren Corber, as well as Cole, Shultz, David Lipson and Jason Kennedy, My 90-Year-Old Roommate will begin streaming on cbc.ca/watch and the CBC TV app on Thursday (Apr. 26). The series stars Paul Soles as a widower who lives alone with his 30-something, single, unemployed grandson (played by Cole).

Season two will feature guest appearances from online influencers like Matthew Santoro and Azzyland’s “Azzy,” who have six million and nearly four million YouTube subscribers, respectively.

Cole told Playback Daily that the influencers will help promote the show on their channels, hopefully attracting a whole new audience to the series. “They will definitely help distribute the content through some videos we filmed with them that they’ll put on their channels and direct their fans to our show,” he said.

In addition, the producers worked with the CBC to create standalone, shareable clips that will be distributed through Facebook and Instagram, driving users to the CBC app and site to watch the series.

After its season one run, the producers also found that the show’s content did particularly well on Reddit. Season one episode “Waiting Game” even reached the front page of the social news and discussion platform. Looking to build on that success, season two has an entire episode devoted to the site, featuring the late actor Verne Troyer, who was also popular on Reddit.

After the success of season one, which was one of the top-five most streamed CBC original comedies, according to the pubcaster, Cole said the goal is to continue to grow and build audiences.

“The goal is honestly to just keep scaling up. If our audience keeps growing, if people keep liking the series, then we can just keep pushing the boundaries and have a bigger budget to do really interesting stuff,” he said. “Maybe it will end up on TV, maybe it becomes a bigger digital property. We just want the show to keep growing.”