Want to know what your favorite celebrity is up to? These days it’s pretty straightforward: Follow them on social media.
But if that celebrity happens to be Neil Patrick Harris, it’s even easier — just download the IAm Neil Patrick Harris app , which puts his Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds all in one place.
Since its launch in 2017, IAm has made individual apps this for more than 250 celebrities , including Harris, Bill Maher, James Corden, and others. But IAm is more than just a social media aggregator. Since Harris and other celebrities directly manage their apps, they also sometimes post exclusive content, usually in the form of impromptu live videos. They can even select individual viewers to chat with face-to-face while streaming, similar to Periscope.
For Harris, the idea has a lot going for it.
“Instead of checking out my Instagram and checking out my Twitter, you can sort of do one-stop shopping for the person you’re interested in,” Harris said in an interview after an appearance atCES 2018. “I think it’s better because rather than trying to hunt [me] down, you can just download their app and it’s culled together.”
For superfans, a one-stop shop for your favorite personalities makes a lot of sense. The algorithms on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook do a decent job of surfacing posts you’re interested in, but they’re not perfect, and you have to proactively turn on notifications if you want to closely follow a specific user. With an IAm app, not only will users receive alerts whenever Harris posts something, the icon is his face, so the visual cue is unmistakable. And since the audience is self-selecting, trolls are much more rare, raising Harris’ comfort level.
“That’s why I think this has some purity to it. It’s nice because it’s not super moderated, and I just [go live] whenever I want to,” he says. “And now we’re having much more interesting conversations about stuff like, instead of an app, you’d have a Neil Patrick Harris channel.”
Harris is serious. IAm has big plans to take its celebrity hubs to the next level by adapting some of them into over-the-top TV channels in the next six months. So not only will Neil Patrick Harris have his own app, he’ll have his own channel on smart TVs, set-top boxes, and even car infotainment systems.
The company is partnering with Samba TV, a content recommendation engine, to make it happen, creating channels for Harris, football star Terrell Owens, and director Bobby Farrelly.
Every celebrity with their own channel? It sounds vaguely like a plotline from Black Mirror , but it’s not like all the content would have to actually star Harris. The idea is for him to act as a curator, and in the longer term, IAm would license the rights to shows like How I Met Your Mother and Doogie Howser and put them in rotation.
“I don’t want it to be all content that I’m in,” Harris says. “That’s what I always thought Twitter and Instagram were for, to be honest. I spend a lot of time saying, ‘Oh, this is a cool app,’ or ‘This is a cool gadget.’ So if you think what I find interesting appeals to you — magic documentaries, variety arts, circus stuff – you might like it.”
If you think only hardcore fans would respond to that kind of content, that’s the point. IAm’s whole model is creating spaces where it can cultivate niche but highly engaged audiences, and celebrities can reach their fans while being themselves. Its vision: Thousands of celebrity-curated apps and channels, each one tailored to a specific fanbase.
There’s à la carte, and then there’s IAm.