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Google Is Shutting Down YouTube Originals

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Google is officially shutting down the “YouTube Originals” program that produced original long-form videos leveraging some of the platform’s stars. The service made its debut in 2016 and was positioned internally to take on rival streaming platform Netflix.

Chief Business Officer at YouTube, Robert Kyncl, gave out the information in a statement posted on Twitter. Kyncl also announced the departure of Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s global head of original content. Daniels is leaving the company on March 1, 2022.

While the initial content on YouTube Originals largely centered around existing creators like PewDiePie, it eventually produced big-budget content, including Cobra Kai in 2018. But Netflix picked up the series for the third and fourth seasons. This signaled YouTube’s diminishing interest in original content. Not too long later, the platform started displaying ads on YouTube Originals content.

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YouTube will “honor” contracted shows that are currently in progress

Kyncl clarified that the platform would continue to support and fund programs included in the Black Voices and YouTube Kids Funds. “We will honor our commitment for already contracted shows in progress and creators who are involved with those shows should expect to hear from us directly in the coming days,” Kyncl further said.

Last year, the YouTube Originals team partnered with celebrities for an effective COVID-19 campaign. There was some hope of a comeback by the platform as it signed deals with actor Will Smith for a series called “The Best Shape Of My Life” last year. But it’s clear at this point that YouTube Originals simply cannot compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, and Prime Video in terms of unique content.

This follows a long pattern of Google entering a new segment and eventually killing it when things seem rocky. Netflix is currently the leader among streaming services, though other platforms are constantly trying to catch up. Based on current trends, that won’t change anytime soon.

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It’s good on YouTube’s part to continue supporting shows that are already under contract to run on the platform. But this also means the cancellation of a few shows still in production. Kyncl’s statement acknowledges that YouTube Originals “played an integral role” in developing the YouTube creator economy. But we know now that it simply wasn’t bringing enough revenue, even with ads.