With 29 new originals set to debut this month alone, there’s not one company that can even come close to keeping up with Netflix. Still, with original content seemingly the next battleground — and perhaps the most efficient way to draw in loyal users — it’s no surprise that we’re seeing more traditional tech companies slowly but surely dip their toes into original programming waters.
To that end, a new report from Bloomberg relays that YouTube is planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on original content over the next few months. YouTube’s media play is said to include original TV programming and movies as well; but what makes YouTube’s concerted foray into original programming all the more interesting is that it will be completely ad-supported, which is to say that users will be able to access it for free, albeit with commercial breaks.
What’s more, YouTube is spending a good chunk of cash in order to attract big name celebrities to anchor a lot of its programming, with Kevin Hart and Ellen DeGeneres being two such names reportedly on-board.
The company will fund more than 40 original shows and movies in the next year, spending hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a person familiar with the plans. YouTube is betting high-profile stars will attract more advertisers like Johnson & Johnson, which is sponsoring “Best.Cover.Ever,” a music competition from Ryan Seacrest that’s scheduled for later this year.
“We’re working with YouTube stars and big celebrities that we know have global appeal, advertiser appeal and are largely established on the platform,” Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s head of original content, said in an interview.
That’s all well and good, and it’s nice to see YouTube putting its money where its mouth is, but I can’t help but feel that YouTube hasn’t learned that money alone can’t buy buzzworthy content capable of entering the mainstream.
As a quick example, here’s what Hart and DeGeneres’ shows will look like:
DeGeneres, who hosts one of the most popular talk shows on TV, will take viewers behind the scenes of her program. Hart, a popular comedian, will try a different trendy workout routine every week alongside celebrity guests in “Kevin Hart: What the Fit?” The show will debut on his Laugh Out Loud Network on YouTube.
That seems entertaining enough, but this just seems like YouTube is spending a ton of money in order to generate more YouTube views. In contrast, some of Netflix’s more popular shows, such as Stranger Things, have taken on lives of their own. For as popular as Hart’s workout show might be, it doesn’t seem like the type of program that will take off in the way that Netflix originals can.
That said, with YouTube releasing upwards of 40 new original shows, we’ll have to wait and see if the video site can release a game-changing show capable of flipping the script, something Netflix was able to achieve when it released House of Cards a few years back.
Additionally, there’s no telling how users will take to original content interspersed with advertising. While viewers might begrudgingly sit through commercials when watching sports or addictive shows like Breaking Bad, sitting through long commercial breaks when watching a movie or a TV show on YouTube seems like a risky move.
Regardless, it will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out.