YouTube is making a major push to come up with more original shows, signing heavyweight celebrities for ad-supported original programming slated to start this year.
The company announced its plans at the NewFronts conference in New York, highlighting that the upcoming original shows will be free for all, not part of the paid YouTube Red subscription service.
YouTube Original Programming
YouTube will pour millions into this project, aiming to establish itself as a popular venue for premium programming alongside Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. While YouTube is already immensely popular worldwide, it hosts a slew of unpolished videos created and uploaded by amateurs.
Since the upcoming original programming will be free, it will be ad supported, and YouTube hopes that somewhere down the line, it will also attract some premium advertising as well. Should it manage to do so, it also could help regain some of its lost advertisers.
YouTube Signs Ellen DeGeneres And More High-Profile Entertainers
As part of its efforts toward more premium, original programming, YouTube struck a deal with popular TV host Ellen DeGeneres, comedian Kevin Hart, Ryan Seacrest, and other celebrities.
"We're working with YouTube stars and big celebrities that we know have global appeal, advertiser appeal and are largely established on the platform," YouTube head of original content, Susanne Daniels, tells Blomberg.
YouTube will spend millions of dollars to finance more than 40 original movies and shows in the next year, Bloomberg learned from a source familiar with the matter. The company hopes that popular celebrities will attract more premium advertisers such as Johnson & Johnson, which is currently sponsoring Ryan Seacrest's Best.Cover.Ever music competition slated for later this year. Best.Cover.Ever comes from Ryan Seacrest Productions and Endemol Shine North America.
Kevin Hart and Ellen DeGeneres are the first two high-profile stars to join YouTube's push for more original content. Hart said at the conference that he's teaming up with YouTube to connect more with his fans, noting that he got his international fan base though YouTube.
Hart's show will focus on workout and will be called Kevin Hart: What the Fit?, distributed through his own YouTube channel called Laugh Out Loud Network. Meanwhile, DeGeneres will offer a show offering fans backstage looks at the making of her famous talk show.
Ryan Seacrest's Best.Cover.Ever will launch on YouTube later this year, while Demi Lovato and Katy Perry announced their own behind-the-scenes shows at the conference.
Aside from high-profile celebrities, YouTube will also rely on its existing talent for two shows. One will be from The Slow Mo Guys, who specialize in high-speed camera effects, while the other will be from online comedy duo Rhett & Link.
Original programming was front and center at the Newfront conference, as online companies announced their latest projects to convince marketers to pour more ad money into the web rather than TV. YouTube's premium show pitch sounds exciting, but we'll see whether it will manage to convince sponsors to make hefty commitments.