YouTube Red’s ambitions to take on Netflix are clearer than ever with the imminent launch of their original content slate on February 10th. Their new shows and films feature some of the biggest YouTubers around and will test whether fans are willing to pay for their content.
When the $9.99 a month service launched late last year, the focus of their initial messaging was to allay concerns that YouTube was becoming a paid-only service. The vast majority of videos on the platform remains available free of charge, with Red providing an ad-free option that pays creators directly instead of having them rely on ad revenue.
Taking a page from Netflix’s expansion into original content, YouTube did note that the platform would offer original series in addition to the videos uploaded by users. While the initial news mentioned some prospective shows and movies, the final launch lineup is now available and it includes an episodic show and films featuring many top social media creators on the channel. In essence, YouTube Red is starting to resemble a Netflix targeted at Gen Z and Millennial audiences. Netflix leads YouTube in hours watched right now but, with the inclusion of more high-end content, YouTube will try to change that.
Scare Pewdiepie leads the pack of original programming. The man (real name: Felix Kjellberg) with over 40 million YouTube subscribers and his own MCN will be part of reality show where producers from The Walking Dead will try to scare him. Inspiration for the show will come from video games that Pewdiepie loves and talks about on his regular channel shows.
Three feature films will also debut alongside Pewdiepie’s series:
A Trip to Unicorn Island features Lilly Singh taking her message about happiness and positive living on a world tour to personally connect with members of her nearly 8 million-subscriber fan base.
Dance Camp, from the folks behind AwesomenessTV, chronicles a teen’s summertime experiences at a sleepaway dance camp. The film features many of the personalities from the AwesomenessTV channel, which has over 3 million subscribers.
Lazer Team is a feature-length sci-fi film from the wacky team at Rooster Teeth, a popular YouTube channel with over 8 million subscribers.
What Does This Mean for Influencer Marketing?
The most interesting thing about the YouTube Red lineup is how similar it is to one you’d see from traditional movie and TV studios, with the added Netflix appeal to drop whole seasons of a show at once. Lilly Singh’s tour film is very much like recent projects from Justin Bieber and Katy Perry. Dance Camp resembles Disney channel offerings like High School Musical. The only difference is the casting of YouTubers that have forged strong connections with their built-in audiences and know how to help market their content. As Heard Well co-founder Andrew Graham recently noted to ION, social media creators are ‘the whole package’, “They are content creators who produced, marketed and distributed work that connected with huge audiences.”
Susanne Daniels, global head of original content at YouTube, echoes his thoughts on YouTube’s blog, “The diverse dynamic creators behind these films have already built massive audiences on YouTube, rivaling many cable shows.” By enabling these creators to build bigger projects with the support of YouTube Red subscription monies, YouTubers are taking another step toward becoming powerhouse production companies, meaning they also have expanded capabilities to create content with influencer marketing messages for highly-targeted audiences.