Social media has become a huge part of just about every college athlete’s life. But the University of Southern California football player Michael Pittman Jr. has given audiences unprecedented access to his personal life in a unique way.
Pittman and his girlfriend, Kianna Galli, started a YouTube channel to document their lives together at USC about eight months ago but soon after abandoned it.
Now, the pair, who started dating their freshman year at Valencia High School, are making their second attempt at the channel, calling it “Michael and Kianna.”
“I think we both put a lot more effort into it,” Galli said. “We wanted to do it for a long time because we’ve seen a lot of couple channels do really well. We decided we might try it and thought it might be fun and a great way to make memories and have a way to hold on to them too.”
The first-person videos are popular — ranging from 13,000 to 163,000 views — and all involve USC football in some way.
Pittman is the Trojans’ leading receiver with 501 yards and four touchdowns on 35 catches. He played his freshman year of prep football at Valencia, then finished his high school career at Oaks Christian.
Some of the videos so far include: a gameday vlog against Stanford, a reaction video to USC’s game against Utah, a behind the scenes look at a USC football photoshoot and a vlog chronicling an average day in Pittman’s life.
“We had one video that just kind of blew up and then a lot of it came from that and that’s kind of how we’re growing,” Pittman said. “Just with videos and make it bigger.”
The idea to make the videos was Pittman’s idea. He does most of the shooting, then Galli edits the videos. They film with their phones or a vlogging camera that they share.
Some of the videos are planned, but others are spontaneous. The only consistent factor among the videos is that neither Pittman nor Galli profits off of them, which would be an NCAA violation.
There are no sponsorships, endorsements or product placements in the videos. The duo hasn’t even applied for monetization through YouTube in order to make money off of what they post.
“For some reason, everybody wants to chime in and they want to say something about it, but we just don’t get money from it,” Pittman said. “Like, it’s just that simple. We just don’t accept any of the money that we could profit off of, so by forfeiting that money, then that makes everything fine.”
The “Michael and Kianna” channel currently has nearly 10,000 subscribers, a number that Pittman and Galli are hoping to boost, although they don’t have a strict long-term plan for the project.
“Just keep going and just keep seeing where it goes,” Pittman said.