YouTube Red could be seen as Google’s attempt at monetizing the massive video sharing service, YouTube, without serving ads to users, at $9.99 per month. This subscription model has been the first significant change to YouTube in a long time, and it fundamentally changes the way Google earns revenue from YouTube, also affecting how creators make money from their content on YouTube. And now, they are upping their game. YouTube had recently announced the acquisition of its first big TV drama series, paving its way to Hollywood. The script of the TV series will be based on the aptly named movie franchise ‘Step Up’, pitching YouTube against direct competitors like Netflix, Hulu and HBO.
The script will be controlled by Lionsgate, the studio responsible for highly popular TV series like Mad Men, Netflix-exclusive Orange Is The New Black and Casual. Channing Tatum will be taking part in the set as the executive producer. Lionsgate will produce a full season, consisting of ten 45 minute long episodes. According to Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s global head of original content, this move should ‘drive subscription’, and he also thinks that the series will be ‘Bigger and bolder’ than anything YouTube Red has ever seen. Each episode will cost several million dollars, proving to be quite a gamble for Google, who has entered the game quite a bit late.
Despite the expenses, Lionsgate is quite optimistic about the reaction the new series, which is scheduled to air next year, will generate, going on to describe it as ‘a distinctive, noisy, platform defining series’. Although the decision for such a series might come at a surprise, it makes perfect sense to Ms. Daniels. According to her, dance videos make a large part of the YouTube library, with music videos from movies like Step Up, and TV series like Glee and Empire being exceedingly popular among YouTubers. The ad-free viewing experience of YouTube Red is supposed to enhance further the experience of watching the series.
Before this, YouTube Red has been home to exclusive shows from YouTube’s home-grown stars like PewDiePie, and Lilly Singh’s documentary about a world tour, called ‘A Trip To Unicorn Island.' The other redeeming features of a YouTube Red subscription is the ability to download and watch videos offline, and background streaming. The service is currently only available in United States, Australia, and New Zealand, with plans to expand into Europe. How the new series affects and accelerates the growth of YouTube Red, and whether it is enough for more subscribers to jump the boat and pay for the exclusivity is something only time can answer.