YouTube claims it is not pulling up stakes from original entertainment — denying a report by Bloomberg over the weekend that the Google-owned video service was cancelling plans for “high-end dramas and comedies” and had stopped taking pitches for “expensive” scripted shows.
In a statement, a rep said, “YouTube denies the report” and cited its upcoming slate with several scripted projects in development that will be unveiled in the next few weeks. That’s likely to be at the Digital Content NewFronts event in New York City, where YouTube is slated to host a presentation the evening of May 2.
YouTube “is steadily building its SVOD business, while also developing new series and formats that will appeal to a global audience through a new ad-supported model that will be in place for all of our series and events by the end of the year,” the rep said.
However, YouTube has canceled plans for two shows it had in development, as first reported by Bloomberg: 10-part sci-fi series “Origin,” from the Sony-owned Left Bank Pictures from creator Mika Watkins, and half-hour female buddy comedy “Overthinking with Kat & June,” from Viacom’s Awesomeness, starring Tenea Intriago (“Law & Order: SVU”) and Alexia Dox (“Quick Draw”).
According to the YouTube rep, YouTube is in fact open to pitches for more scripted projects, but “right now we are focused on our current slate.” That includes shows “Cobra Kai,” a reboot of the “Karate Kid,” as well as “Impulse,” “Liza on Demand,” “Escape the Night” with Joey Graceffa, and “Step Up: High Water.”
YouTube last year shifted to a new strategy, which it calls “Single Slate,” to make all of its original programming available free to watch. That will include in some cases an exclusive window on its YouTube Premium service, which is priced at $11.99 per month in the U.S. That signaled a shift for YouTube Originals toward content with a wider appeal that can amass a big audience on the free, ad-supported side as well as SVOD.
YouTube has already gone out to Madison Avenue to talk about the “Single Slate” strategy to advertisers, according to the rep.
The Bloomberg report also said that Susanne Daniels, global head of YouTube Originals, was looking to “move on,” citing anonymous sources.
Daniels denied that in a statement to Bloomberg. “While it’s strangely flattering to be the topic of Hollywood gossip, please know I am committed to YouTube and can’t wait to unveil our robust slate of new and returning originals,” she said in the statement.