Episode 1 of “Seasons” had 32.65 million views in the first week after its Jan. 27 debut, according to YouTube. That beat out YouTube’s original comedy “Liza On Demand” Season 2 debut (25.4 million) and the first episode of “Cobra Kai” Season 2 (21 million) over the same time periods.
YouTube paid upwards of $20 million for the 10-part Bieber docuseries, making it YouTube’s most expensive content acquisition to date, Variety reported. “Seasons” promises fans a revealing look at the making of the “Changes,” the pop star’s first new album in over four years.
Bieber, who famously got “discovered” on YouTube, is the most-followed music artist on the platform — and just surpassed 50 million subscribers for his channel. “Started as #kidrauhl and now this. Thank you,” Bieber tweeted Wednesday about the milestone, referring to his original YouTube username.
In the last 12 months, Bieber’s YouTube channel has generated over 3 billion views. The music video for his latest single, “Yummy,” has over 150 million views to date; it debuted in the No. 1 slot on the YouTube Global Top Videos chart and has reached YouTube’s Top Songs charts in over 50 countries and territories.
YouTube has released the first four episodes of “Seasons” for free so far, available on Bieber’s YouTube channel, including Episode 4 on Wednesday. YouTube Premium subscribers can currently access episodes 1-6 (without ads) and also will get early access to future episodes of the series beginning next week.
The docuseries is a lead-in to the Feb. 14 release of Bieber’s “Changes,” touted as “the most personal album of his career,” from RBMG/Def Jam Recordings, which precedes his 2020 tour, set to hit 45 cities this summer.
According to the show’s producers, “Seasons” takes viewers behind the scenes to show Bieber’s process of creating new music; the motivation for his fifth studio album; and the aftermath of his decision to cancel the final shows of his 2017 “Purpose” tour. The series also promises glimpses of Bieber’s private life — including never-before-seen footage from his wedding this year to Hailey Bieber — featuring interviews with Hailey, his closest friends and collaborators, and Bieber himself.
In greenlighting the project, YouTube was counting on Bieber’s global fanbase to drive viewers to the ad-supported “Seasons” series, and the strong showing for the premiere episode indicates Beliebers responded as hoped. YouTube has made the first episodes of all its originals available for free under a sampling strategy since it launched original programming in 2016.
As part of YouTube’s revamped programming strategy, all new originals series and specials are available for free in front of the paywall. YouTube once saw original programming as underpinning its subscription business, but it has abandoned scripted entertainment to focus on ad-supported originals in three categories: music; learning; and celebrity/personality-driven series.
“Justin Bieber: Seasons” is directed and executive produced by OBB Pictures’ Michael D. Ratner with photographer Joe Termini set to direct additional episodes. The docuseries is produced by Bieber Time Films, SB Projects and OBB Pictures. Bieber serves as executive producer, alongside Scooter Braun, Allison Kaye and Scott Manson for SB Projects and Michael D. Ratner, Scott Ratner and Kfir Goldberg for OBB Pictures. Overseeing the project for YouTube are Alex Piper, head of unscripted originals, and Cara Casey, development lead for originals.