YouTube Poaches MTV Exec to Further Original Content

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We recently covered YouTube’s plan to roll out a subscription based service that should be released by the end of the year and have a very similar feature set as YouTube Music Key, notably: ad-free playback, saving videos for offline viewing, background playback, and access to premium content. The last part of the equation, “premium content”, is the ace up YouTube’s sleeve; to attract users to a subscription based service the platform needs premium content that rivals other subscription video services, such as the big TV networks and Netflix. While YouTube has been working with and funding some of its most prominent creators in the past, they announced back in January that the platform will be stepping up its efforts to fund and assist with the creation of premium original series‘, much like those found on Netflix. In this vein YouTube just announced they have hired Susanne Daniels, formerly the programming chief at MTV, to head their original programming division.

The new appointment of Susanne Daniels as VP of original programming isn’t expected to produce a major shift in strategy as YouTube has been building its plan to produce original series for quite some time. The man responsible for YouTube’s progress until now, Alex Carloss, will continue his current efforts with his team, though they will be reporting to Daniels. This recent move is not surprising considering the drastic increase in funding YouTube will be providing to creators as part of its revamped strategy; insiders have reported that funding ranges from hundreds of thousands to $5 million for a single original series.

Appointing a seasoned veteran of TV programming and production makes sense considering the scale of the budgets YouTube is putting on the line to fund new projects. No stranger to high profile, big budget programming Daniels should provide critical oversight of these projects and ensure they can truly compete with TV Networks and the likes of Netflix and Amazon, who have been advancing their own original content for quite some time yet have not poached an experienced, prominent TV executive.  Robert Kyncl, global head of content and business operations, stated “Susanne is an executive whose incredible instincts have led her to consistently generate pop culture hits that audiences relate to and root for. Susanne’s deep expertise in programming will be invaluable to us and our top creators and help them foster even more ambitious projects for YouTube.” Given this glowing commendation Daniels has the experience and vision that YouTube and its creators need to create truly awesome original content.

The fact that YouTube was able to coax such a high-profile executive from MTV speaks volumes of the maturation and popularity of online digital media. MTV was once the de facto network of what advertisers refer to as the “key demo”, the adolescent to middle aged demographic. As many of you have already realized this demo prefers digital media to traditional mediums such as television; Viacom, the parent company of MTV, has seen significant decreases in Nielsen ratings amongst youth demos over the past year. YouTube’s new hire and original content should also help fend off growing competition from platforms such as Vessel who have been actively luring YouTube’s top creators to its own platform. Though the threat of competing platforms certainly has some influence on YouTube’s push to create original series and hire Daniels the primary influencer here is definitely the imminent release of its paid subscription model and the hopes that it will compete with TV Networks and established digital media platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Given the amount of money YouTube if pouring into its original content, and the experience of its new head, their efforts should pay off in some very competitive programming, which will certainly be a treat to watch; if it is not hidden by a subscriber only paywall, but that is another story.