January 28, 2022

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The Next Host Of Jeopardy? How Matthew Patrick Created A YouTube Empire While Raising Millions For St.Jude

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After 37 seasons as the host of Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek became a mainstay in American households. But after he passed away last year, Sony was left with big shoes to fill for their primetime show. 

While they recently announced that Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik and former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings would serve as interim hosts, there may be another candidate to carry Trebek’s legacy and make Jeopardy! relevant with younger audiences.

If you love watching YouTube, you probably know Matthew Patrick (also known as “MatPat”). He’s started four YouTube channels: Game Theory with 14.5 million subscribers, Film Theory with 10 over million, Food Theory with 3 million, and GT Live (his gaming talk show) with over 2.5 million subscribers. 

He’s done it while raising millions for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This past November 20th, Patrick and his wife Stephanie hosted a live stream for St.Jude which brought together fellow creators like Mark Rober, Mr. Beast and Markiplier as they raised an astounding $1.6 million. This came only two years after their inaugural livestream event in 2019 which raised $1.3 million for St.Jude.

If Patrick has been able to get that many people to open their minds to internet theories like how Disney Frozen’s Anna and Elsa are not sisters and open their wallets to donate to nonprofits like St.Jude, imagine what he could do as the host of Jeopardy! I’m not alone. Over 380,000 have signed this petition to Make MatPat The Next Jeopardy! Host.

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I caught up with Patrick at VidSummit to hear more of his story, ask his best tips for YouTubers today, and learn more about why Sony should seriously consider him to host their classic game show. Here’s what I learned:

1) Embrace “Lateral Thinking”

Patrick graduated with a double major from Duke University. He majored in theater and… wait for it…music? Film studies? Nope. Patrick chose neuroscience as his second major. For a YouTuber and an entertainer, you’d expect theater. But neuroscience?

It seems completely unrelated. But Patrick told me how his background comes together – and has given him a leg up on YouTube.  “These are creative platforms built by engineers. The cool thing about my theater and neuroscience background is I understand the number side. And I understand the audience psychology side of decision fatigue and habituation to call to action – like where people just tune this stuff out. All of those recommendations are rooted in data and psychological science. But you’re wrapping it all up in this creative bow that comes from the theater side.”

In many ways, Patrick is an embodiment of “lateral thinking,” a term coined in 1967 by Dr. Edward de Bono to describe the process of solving a problem with an unusual approach – typically inspired by a totally different field or industry. You never know what two fields you can combine the way Patrick did to lay the foundation for his YouTube career.

2) Have A Clear Value Prop For Your Content 

Patrick told me he started the Game Theory channel because he “recognized that there was a gap in the marketplace, about educating through gaming.” So he asked himself: “ ‘Why isn’t there a show that streamlines it all down and makes it fun for you to watch?’ As someone who is a big fan of these games and is a big fan of learning, this would really speak to me. It felt kind of like Mythbusters for gaming.” 

When launching his Game Theory channel over 10 years ago, he made a trailer where he not only addressed this gap in the market but gave viewers a clear reason why they should subscribe. MatPat has replicated that formula with Film Theory and Food Theory; each channel has its own value proposition, launched with several episodes so viewers knew what to expect, and skyrocketed with subscribers. 

MatPat’s bottom line is that you need to have a broad base of knowledge, a specific focus, make a promise to your subscribers, and then follow through.

3) Don’t Monetize Too Quickly

These days, many creators rush to monetize before finding their voice and format. While YouTube was a vastly different platform when Patrick started, he chose not to  monetize his channel until he reached one million subscribers.

“I didn’t want to put too many eggs into that basket only for the bottom to fall out,” Patrick told me. “Especially when you’re doing content that’s related to video games. Is that ‘fair use’ or is it not? Are the games gonna sue me? Is YouTube gonna strike the channel because I’m using images of Sonic the Hedgehog? I kept expecting the hammer to fall. And I appreciated and loved building the community around me. Which is why I’m like, whatever money can come with this, I don’t care, ’cause I don’t want to risk my channel.”

For Patrick, doing YouTube wasn’t about making money at first. It was about finding an audience. Once he found that, he was able to start multiple channels, build merch lines, monetize through sponsorships and more.

4) Prioritize Friendships Over Business Relationships

Patrick’s success on YouTube wouldn’t be the same without his wife Stephanie. As the Theorist Media channels grew, Stephanie quit her consulting job to go full-time on YouTube. 

I asked him about this phenomenon – of a husband and wife creator duo. After all, Patrick isn’t the only creator partnered with another creator. There’s Alyne Tamir of “Dear Alyne,” and her boyfriend Nusier Yassin of “Nas Daily.” But in their case, they have two separate channels, and each does his or her own thing. In the case of the Patricks, they’re working together on the same channels.His response wasn’t overly encouraging to creator-couple-wannabes. 

“First and foremost, decide if you want to work together. Honestly, we have known so many couples where working together has put so much strain on the relationship.”

But Matthew and Stephanie Patrick have made it work. How? “Our relationship goes first,” Patrick told me. Same goes for his friendships. “The business has to happen second. And if, at any point, that comes into question, we have to find some other arrangement – because you are too important a person in my life to sacrifice for whatever this content is.”

5) Push Beyond Just YouTube

When I asked Patrick how his content continually shows up on YouTube’s Trending page, he began talking about one of his favorite topics: programming. He thinks about his YouTube channels the way a studio exec thinks about their shows. 

“Programming is so crucial,” Patrick told me. “We manage that by going back to things we know the audience likes. Then we try something experimental. One to the audience, one to the algorithm, and one to us.” It’s the mentality that has gotten a groundswell of support – over 380,000 signatures on this Change.org petition – to be the next host of Jeopardy! Just like he did on YouTube, Patrick is well-prepared to walk the tightrope and balance the need to respect Trebeck’s tradition (“one for the audience”) while still experimenting with new ideas (“one for us”) that could shake things up enough to bring in a tidal wave of new fans.

Not to mention, it’s a perfect extension of his existing content. During our conversation, Patrick recalled how he created his Game Theory channel to mix entertainment with education. In many ways, Jeopardy! follows a similar mission. Sony Entertainment, why not give Patrick a shot? Who knows, he could be your next Alex Trebeck with the creativity, work ethic, and personality to last another 37 seasons.

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