It’s been a while since YouTube seriously tried its hand at programming. After quietly Old Yellering the Original Channels initiative, YouTube has focused mostly on supporting creators with things like advertising, training, and resources through its global creator spaces. Now the video giant is prepared to once again step into the programming ring. In a blog post, YouTube’s newly minted Head of Originals, Alex Carloss, revealed the first round of creators who will receive YouTube funding to produce bigger and more ambitious projects.
The Fine Brothers, Prank vs. Prank, Smosh, and Joey Graceffa will all receive an assist from YouTube on their next big projects. You’ll remember that we predicted that the Fines would be in line for YouTube Originals funding back when the program was first announced late last year. All four creators are power houses both on YouTube and off, and YouTube is betting big on their ability to deliver premium scripted and unscripted content. The blog post lays out a mix of ambitious scripted programs, celebrity guest spots, and YouTube-friendly, reality-based collaborations that are sure to please existing fans — but will they draw the new, and possibly paying, viewers that YouTube is looking for?
The new series, as well as a set of feature films produced with AwesomenessTV, are part of an effort by YouTube to create the kind of premium content that viewers would be willing to pay for rather than stumble upon. While YouTube is often compared to streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, it has always been a different sort of animal. YouTube’s bread and butter has always been user-generated content, much of which is comparatively low budget and abundant.
Most of YouTube’s considerable earnings come from selling ads on content that costs them nothing but server space. In recent years YouTube has mostly been successful providing support and resources for the creators, but moving into directly producing content is a big step. YouTube’s previous experiments in the field have met with mixed results. Whether Originals prove to be a successful part of YouTube’s big picture or not, the potential for creators is enormous and the shows this program produces will be worth keeping an eye on.
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