YouTube is stepping tentatively up to the plate to stand alongside streaming giants Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu by announcing its own original programs to be available exclusively through its subscription service YouTube Red.
The Red originals don’t seem to be attempting to pull in a general audience, rather focusing on fans of its homegrown personalities like PewDiePie and Lilly Singh. That’s not to say YouTube is taking any risks by doing this, though, since these stars already have fanbases in the tens of millions (PewDiePie alone has 42 million subscribers) it’s safe to say these original shows are getting off to a fairly solid start with such a large potential audience.
The first four original shows going live are:
- A Trip to Unicorn Island: A feature length film following Lilly Singh as she embarks on a 26 city global tour.
- Lazer Team: A feature-length action-comedy from Rooster Teeth and Fullscreen Films in which four people stumble upon an alien ship carrying a mysterious cargo, leading to a battle to save Earth.
- Scare PewDiePie: A reality-adventure series starring PewDiePie who encounters terrifying situations inspired by his favorite video games.
- Dance Camp: A film from AwesomenessTV about a summer camp for dancers
The shows are only available to YouTube Red subscribers, which is currently only in the US, but fans in the UK can access the shows by purchasing them from YouTube or Google Play for a one-time cost of £6.99 for feature length shows and £1.89 for individual episodes. If you’d rather wait, it’s expected that YouTube Red will roll out to the UK later this year where it will cost somewhere in the region of £6-£10 each month.
YouTube don’t intend to rest on their laurels after this launch either, with plans for at least six more originals over the next year. These upcoming originals will feature more of YouTube’s well-known creators such as GiGi Gorgeous and College Humour.
It’s unlikely Netflix are going to be looking nervously over their shoulders; we can only subscribe to so many streaming services before we spend more time scrolling through them than we do actually watching their content.
But it’s not entirely likely YouTube Red is even trying to attract the audience that’s drawn to Netflix or Amazon. It appears to be a streaming service for a younger more internet-centric audience, an audience whose idols have come from YouTube, and who don’t expect their shows to abide by a standardised length. If YouTube’s originals succeed we could see the accepted, expected and preferred content and format of shows change dramatically.