If one thing has become crystal clear over the last year it’s that YouTube believes in YouTubers. The video giant has spent millions building YouTube creator spaces to help train and support creators and to break its most successful stars into the mainstream with big budget ad campaigns. Back in September they announced an ambitious plan to fund big new projects from top creators. The man in charge of dolling out all those sweet Google dollars is Alex Carloss, the head of YouTube Originals. Rather than dumping millions into major brands and Hollywood stars like it’s done in the past, or on creating TV style content like Netflix and Amazon, YouTube is doubling down on what works already: YouTube creators.
While speaking at the National Association of Television Program Executives, Carloss revealed what his Originals team would be looking for in creators to partner with. It turns out that the special sauce that could make a creator a top pick for YouTube Originals isn’t much of a secret. Carloss aid they’re looking for creators with active and growing fanbases, and those with ambition to grow their content beyond what they’d be capable of on their own. In short, creators who are living by the YouTube playbook that the company has been promulgating for years.
Carloss cited creators like Bethany Mota, one of YouTube’s clear poster girls. In the last 12 months alone she’s launched a clothing line with Aeropostale, had a successful run on Dancing With The Stars, and interviewed the president of the United States. She’s done all of that while increasing her subscriber base on her personal channel with her trademark quirky, perky, and personal content. Naturally she’s someone that has a lot to offer YouTube Originals which, based on Carloss’s comments, sounds more like a souped-up version of the content we’ve come to expect and less like the Netflix style original series that some early pundits predicted.
What goes unsaid about creators like Mota is that she’s also a flight risk. YouTube is working overtime not just because it believes in YouTubers, but also because it’s afraid of losing them to the competition. The last year has seen YouTube creators wooed by everyone from Yahoo and Facebook to Vimeo and new video start-up Vessel. For top tier creators you can add television to that list. Mota has already done a season of reality TV and big names like Shane Dawson, Grace Helbig, Epic Meal Time, and The Fine Brothers are already working on projects with networks. If YouTube wants to keep its most successful children from leaving the nest, it’s going to have to offer them the chance to build bigger and better things, a fact that YouTube Originals team is probably acutely aware of when making their picks.
It’s probably too soon to guess which familiar faces will we see when the first batch of YouTube Originals rolls out later this year, but we can definitely hazard a guess at what they’ll be doing. Primarily it’ll be a higher budget version of things that have already worked well on YouTube. Short form comedy, interview and talk shows, DIY and how-to’s are all likely to be on the menu.