YouTube is getting into the interactive programming business.
The video-uploading and sharing service reportedly confirmed as much today, with the explanation it was creating a new division headed up by Ben Relles. This sees Relles moving from the current Head of Unscripted role for YouTube Originals to the new Head of Innovation position.
Essentially, YouTube plans to develop and release a number of new shows where the user can ‘choose their own adventure.’
While this is not necessarily a new concept in general, it is one which Netflix has seen a decent level of success with and in spite of only just starting to really expand its interactive portfolio. This is following the release of the multi-ending "Black Mirror" episode and even more recently the new survival-based show headed up by Bear Grylls, “You vs. Wild.”
It is not quite clear yet what route YouTube will take with its shows, but the general idea seems to be in line with the type and style Netflix is currently expanding out.
What is clear is that YouTube’s original programming is currently in a state of rebuild. It was only recently reported that YouTube Originals was cutting back on high-profile and expensive shows resulting in the discontinuation of a number of current premium YouTube entities, including the sci-fi show “Origin” and the comedic "Overthinking with Kat & June."
When taken together the latest news would seem to indicate that YouTube Originals is moving from a focus on scripted shows to one which places a greater emphasis on unscripted content.
As is to be expected with an angle like this, this also means the launch of a number of specials including live events and shows where viewers will be able to take part in, and most likely dictate, the action as it unfolds
Along with the reported change in direction, YouTube Originals is also understood to be moving from a paid experience -- access to Originals content is usually reserved to those who are “Premium” (“Red”) members -- to the wider YouTube ecosystem, resulting in the same content becoming freely available to all YouTube users, equally.
With the company planning on launching interactive and real-time shows and content, the move for Originals to the ad-supported model is likely to prove smart as the vast user-base enjoyed by YouTube offers the potential to make these instant, and possible globally-engaging events.
Recently, YouTube has been looking to expand on the more social side of the platform beyond the actual content. In addition to the ability to ‘go live’ on YouTube, users also have the option to engage in live chats and even have their individual responses surface for content creator attention in real-time.
Likewise, YouTube has remained keen to utilize the talent it has on file and this has included using YouTube stars for some of its premium content. It would stand to reason this will also be something that's leveraged with the interactive content once it arrives on the world's largest video platform.
Of course, this is also likely to prove beneficial when it comes to ad-revenue as well. Something that will not only be of benefit to the platform, but also advertisers.