YouTube is producing more than half a dozen original series this year and plans to spend $100m on over 40 shows.
Taking a leaf from Netflix’s book, YouTube is to spend $100m on its own ad-supported original series in a move that could drive a further wedge between live TV and the streaming world.
The original series will be available for free on YouTube.
Google also plans to increase spending on YouTube Red, the platform’s paid video and music streaming service.
The seven shows will involve top-billed stars – including Kevin Hart, Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato and Ludacris – and YouTube creators Rhett and Link, and The Slow Mo Guys.
“When excited fans, brands and creators tell us something, we listen,” said Robert Kyncl, chief business officer at YouTube.
“We’re thrilled to announce that, beginning later this year, some of the biggest YouTube creators and Hollywood names will be featured in seven new series on YouTube, bringing more can’t-get-enough-of and can’t-find-anywhere-else shows to everyone, everywhere.
“With these new shows, brands can be a part of content that’s generating buzz around the world.”
The move affirms the smartphone, tablet, PC and network-connected TV as the destination of choice for digitally-savvy consumers, and could be seen as a worrying development for traditional TV broadcasters.
According to Bloomberg, digital media ad revenues in the US are hurtling towards $80bn, while national TV hovers below $50bn and local TV stands at around $25bn.
The move into original programming by YouTube is a doff of the cap to Netflix, which saw this opportunity coming and the evolution of the YouTube platform from an amateurish free-for-all to a sophisticated service with tailored, quality content.
It remains to be seen where YouTube goes with this strategy, however. $100m is a drop in the ocean compared to the $6bn Netflix plans to spend on original content in 2017.
YouTube’s new original series line-up
The first seven shows to feature in the coming year are:
Ellen’s Show Me More Show: A twice-a-week series giving fans behind the scenes access to some of the biggest stars and her favorite moments.
Good Mythical Morning: A long-form expansion of Rhett and Link’s talk-show Good Mythical Morning.
Kevin Hart: What the Fit?: Kevin Hart will team up with celebrity friends and YouTube stars each week as they attempt to master a different trending, gruelling and sometimes ridiculous workout routine.
I Am: Demi Lovato: Demi Lovato gives a personal, behind-the-scenes look at the writing and recording of her new album.
Best.Cover.Ever.: A talent competition series hosted by Ludacris in which emerging talent from across the globe submit covers to vie for the ultimate prize: an opportunity to perform a duet with a superstar artist.
The Super Slow Show: YouTube stars The Slow Mo Guys will test the latest in technology to reinvent the way we look at celebrities, music, pranks, comedy sketches and more.
Katy Perry Live Special: Inside the world of Katy Perry, revealing the experiences and emotions of the artist on the eve of her highly anticipated album launch.
Updated, 11.18am, 5 May 2017: This article originally misstated the number of original series to be produced by YouTube.