BY SAM GUTELLE
Two of most significant projects in YouTube’s pipeline have been linked to one another, and the video site looks as if it will provide information about both of them on Oct. 21. That’s the date when, according to Recode, YouTube will discuss its new slate of original programs, some of which are likely to be included within the site’s upcoming subscription service.
YouTube will discuss its original programs during an event at its Los Angeles creator space. As far as we know, the programs in question are the ones revealed in an April 2015 blog post. They’ll each be created in partnership with top-level YouTube stars, with the video site providing all necessary funding. The creators working on their own projects as part of the new initiative are Smosh, Prank Vs. Prank, The Fine Bros, and Joey Graceffa.
On Wednesday, we hope to hear more about YouTube’s distribution strategy for its new round of originals. Recode believes at least some of the originals will be released behind paywalls. Users will need to sign up for YouTube’s upcoming subscription service, which is rumored to carry a price tag in the vicinity of $10 per month.
Recode characterizes the new slate of originals as a successor to the YouTube Original Channels Initiative, which launched in 2011 and taught YouTube some important lessons about the content it produces for its own viewers. One of the most important things YouTube learned is that content from its own creative community tends to click with its viewers, especially when compared with content produced by larger media companies. Since the end of the Original Channels Initiative, the rise of YouTube’s Spaces has allowed the video site to allocate more resources to its creative community; with its new originals, it will take that commitment even further.
Some people may remember the poor returns YouTube received the last time it tried to offer a large slate of exclusive, premium content behind a paywall. In general, the video site has struggled to find ways to get viewers to pay for content, but if any programs are able to drive significant subscription revenue, it’s these ones–engineered by beloved online video content creators–that have the best shot. We’ll have a better idea of YouTube’s game plan once the video site’s Oct. 21 event begins.
Illustration by Max Fleishman