An all-new documentary series following Demi Lovato’s ups and downs over the last three years is coming exclusively to YouTube, as part of the video giant doubling down on its music, celebrity and creator-focused originals strategy.
In addition to the new four-part Lovato docuseries, YouTube has renewed four original projects featuring big-name digital talent: “Instant Influencer with James Charles,” “The Creator Games Presented by MrBeast,” a sequel to interactive series “A Heist With Markiplier,” and “Retro Tech” hosted by Marques Brownlee.
“We’re continuing to invest [in originals] – and we’ve investing more,” Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer, said in an interview. He called out YouTube’s recent announcement to establish a multiyear $100 million fund dedicated to Black creators and artists.
YouTube’s free, ad-supported push with originals has largely abandoned scripted programming (which originally was designed to drive subscriptions to YouTube Premium). “The strategy we embarked on a year and a half ago is working for us, and we’re leaning in more,” said Kyncl. “And nothing brought it home more than the time of coronavirus.”
The YouTube Originals announcements were made during the Google-owned video site’s Brandcast Delivered pitch for the ad industry.
The Demi Lovato project, currently untitled, is a follow up to “Simply Complicated,” the 2017 YouTube Originals documentary on the singer-actor. The series will follow Lovato “returning to show fans her personal and musical journey over the past three years,” according to YouTube. The series is directed by Michael D. Ratner and produced by OBB Pictures.
YouTube is “investing heavily into originals with creators,” and has launched or greenlit 25 such projects in 2020 alone, Kyncl said. “We’re dealing with people who are accomplished on YouTube, and that’s not easy to achieve for anyone.” On the originals YouTube is bringing back, “We’re seeing great success in terms of views and watchtime, which is why we have all the confidence to renew them.”
Makeup reality-competition series “Instant Influencer with James Charles” debuted this spring, and garnered over 53 million views in its first month. Season 1 of the series, produced by Brian Graden Media, featured celebrity guest judges and industry veterans including Norvina, Paris Hilton and Trixie Mattel.
The MrBeast-hosted “Creator Games” will return for a second edition, after the first livestream registered as one of YouTube’s most-viewed original live events and has over 30 million views to date. The April 25 event featured 32 of YouTube’s top creators including iJustine, Marques Brownlee and Jack Black and raised over $1 million for COVID-19-related charitable organizations.
YouTube also has ordered another interactive special with Mark “Markiplier” Fischbach, following last year’s “A Heist With Markiplier,” which now has over 18 million views. The interactive film is produced by Markiplier and Rooster Teeth Studios. In addition, YouTube is bringing back Vox Media Studios-produced “Retro Tech,” in which popular tech vlogger Brownlee looks at nostalgic gaming and consumer-electronic products, for a second season.
On the scripted front, YouTube has offloaded several shows, including “Cobra Kai” and “Step Up,” and recently canceled “Escape the Night” with Joey Graceffa.
But YouTube hasn’t abandoned the scripted space altogether. Season 3 of “Liza On Demand,” the comedy starring Liza Koshy, is ready to go into production at Above Average once that’s safe to resume.
And Friday (June 26) will see the premiere of “Lockdown” on the YouTube Originals for Kids & Family Channel, a 10-episode scripted series following six friends as they work together to solve a mystery in their neighborhood during the COVID-19 social-distancing era. Shot entirely via webcam and smartphone from the actors’ homes and neighborhoods, “Lockdown” is created and produced by Toronto-based Sinking Ship Entertainment.
As previously announced, YouTube has set a live special with magician David Blaine this fall. “Usually known for his dark and mysterious stunts, this experience will be lighter and brighter than you have ever seen Blaine before,” YouTube says.
The 2020 Brandcast Delivered marks YouTube’s ninth annual Digital Content NewFronts presentation. The virtual session was delivered to agencies and brand marketers Thursday in personalized video packages, highlighting content on the platform in five different categories: learning and education, comedy and entertainment, lifestyle and fashion, food and recipes, and sports.
The event featured appearances from YouTube creators and celebs including Lilly Singh, Josh Gad, Karlie Kloss, Emma Chamberlain, Questlove, Tones And I, Ronda Rousey, ex-Yankees player Alex Rodriguez and Gordon Ramsay. YouTube CMO Danielle Tiedt was joined by creator Tarek Ali in a discussion about amplifying diverse perspectives.
On the ad-product side, the video platform highlighted YouTube Select, which now provides a dedicated streaming-TV lineup (including inventory on YouTube). It also touted survey measurement tool Brand Lift for YouTube and YouTube TV on TV screens, which optimizes survey for the big screen and interactivity with a TV remote.
“We are now offering advertisers a way to buy just living room consumption,” Kyncl said, who said YouTube now has more than 100 million monthly U.S. viewers on TV screens.
YouTube also announced Video Action Campaigns, which automatically brings video ads that drive viewer action to the YouTube home feed, watch pages, Google video partners and any future inventory, all within one campaign.
According to Comscore, YouTube in March 2020 reached 77% of ad-supported VOD households and made up 41% of ad-supported video streaming watch time in the U.S.
Here’s the list of creators and talent featured in Brandcast Delivered by category:
- Comedy & Entertainment: Lilly Singh, David Blaine, Josh Gad, Swoozie, Merrell Twins, Casey Neistat, DSharp
- Fashion & Lifestyle: Karlie Kloss, Emma Chamberlain, Joe Wicks, Patrick Starrr
- Learning & Education: Cookie Monster, Physics Girl, Mark Rober, Eddie Woo
- Sports: Alex Rodriguez, Ronda Rousey, Kristopher London
- Food & Recipes: Gordon Ramsay, Sean Evans, Brad Leone, Claire Saffitz
- Music: Tones And I, Mark Ronson, Questlove