College debt is a big hit — at least on television and mobile devices.
"Going from Broke," a 10-episode reality series available on "over-the-top" channel Crackle, scored one million views and the highest level of engagement ever for the streaming service. The show boasts Ashton Kutcher as one of the producers.
In the series, the CEO of college services company Chegg, Dan Rosensweig, and financial expert Danetha Doe meet with young people in Los Angeles who are struggling with student debt.
"The series is incredibly relevant and relatable and has clearly resonated with our millennial consumers," Philippe Guelton, president, Crackle Plus said in a statement.
Feel good media company, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, co-produces the program. When the show was announced last month, Chicken Soup Chairman and CEO William J. Rouhana Jr. said the show " isn’t just entertainment; it also provides real tools and takeaway for viewers."
The show not only has appeal to viewers but to sponsors. The likes of financial services company Acorns, software maker Adobe, insurer State Farm and the aforementioned Chegg, which began as a re-seller and renter of college textbooks.
An estimated 43 million Americans aged 18 and above are responsible for outstanding federal student loans that total $1.5 trillion, according to the Center for American Progress. It doesn't stop there. Another $119 billion in has been borrowed in private loans. The series looks at some of "debtors" such as Obi Nwankwo, a former college track star with a degree in finance, who — with his student loans — continues to fall behind on his bills, despite owning a growing business.
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Student debt – and getting rid of it – has become a popular subject on the Democratic presidential campaign trail.
Sen.Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has promised to eradicate all of the student debt while Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has offered a plan to cancel $640 billion of it. Other plans have been less generous such as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., has proposed that borrowers who received a Pell Grant from the government will have up to $20,000 of their student debt forgiven if they start a business and operate it for at least three years in a disadvantaged community. Former Vice President Joe Biden has a multi-pronged plan that is less about forgiveness and more about overhauling parts of the system such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Chegg CEO, Rosenweig, who has been in the college space for nearly a decade has high hopes for "Going from Broke."
"My hope is that the stories in this show shine a light on the crippling impact debt and financial instability has on our kids, our future workforce, and our economy,” he said.
An earlier version of this story referred to Crackle as Sony-owned. The streaming service is now a joint venture with Sony and Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, which has taken a majority ownership