Global video platform YouTube is planning a significant move in its original content strategy, with an aim to move all programming produced under its Originals banner to its free, ad-supported model.
The strategy signals a move away from the premium subscription model it had introduced in 2015. Originally branded as YouTube Red and then rebranded as YouTube Premium, the service allowed subscribers to view YouTube Originals content ad-free.
While initial reports said the move also signaled a shift away from scripted programming, a statement supplied to realscreen from a YouTube spokesperson says the company isn’t abandoning the genre, and that it intends to keep its Premium offering running in tandem with the AVOD model.
“We will continue to invest in scripted programming and shift to make our YouTube Originals ad supported to meet the growing demand of a more global fanbase,” said the company via the statement. “This next phase of our Originals strategy will expand the audience of our YouTube Original creators, and provide advertisers with incredible content that reaches the YouTube Generation.”
It is understood that the new strategy involves creating a single slate for YouTube Originals content for both AVOD and SVOD. Current Premium and ad-supported content initiatives will be combined in a single programming push that, by 2020, will provide free “windows” across the slate for all YouTube users. The Premium model will exist for users that want ad-free content that can be viewable offline, including YouTube Originals.
The Originals division is headed by former MTV exec Susanne Daniels (pictured), who joined in 2015.
YouTube doesn’t release subscription numbers for its services, but in its statement, the company, through its spokesperson, touted 2018 as “a breakout year” for its Premium and Originals units.
“We expanded YouTube Premium to 29 countries, launched over 50 scripted and unscripted shows, and collected eight Emmy nominations and over 30 industry awards,” said the spokesperson.
In the unscripted and non-fiction space, YouTube has worked with various prodcos and producer/directors on projects for the Premium brand. Recent projects such as the Demi Lovato documentary Simply Complicated (produced by Philymack Productions) and Will Smith: The Jump (produced by Fly on the Wall), however, were available for users to stream for free, with ads. The latter project generated more than 17.5 million views within the first 48 hours of its broadcast on the site.