YouTube is getting out of the business of originals: The Google-owned video giant said it is winding down its original productions team after more than six years.
Earlier, news broke that Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s global head of original content, will leave the company in March. Going forward, YouTube will only be funding programs that are part of its Black Voices and YouTube Kids funds, chief business officer Robert Kyncl announced Tuesday.
Citing the growth of YouTube’s Partner Program for ad-revenue sharing — which now tops 2 million participants — Kyncl said “now our investments can make a greater impact on even more creators when applied towards other initiatives.”
“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 wrote in the message posted to Twitter.
When it first started out in originals, YouTube had planned to make a run at the subscription-streaming business. But within a couple of years, it pivoted — and starting in 2018, YouTube killed off its slate of scripted TV series and movies: Several of its projects moved to other outlets: “Cobra Kai” has gone on to Netflix; “On Becoming a God In Central Florida” went to Showtime; and “Step Up” was acquired by Starz.
Instead, Daniels and her team shifted to focus on unscripted fare in three different areas: music, celebrity and creator-focused originals, and educational programming. Now YouTube is ending its efforts in those areas, as well.
Some of YouTube’s most popular originals were docuseries “Justin Bieber: Seasons”; comedy “Liza On Demand”; drama series “Cobra Kai,” a continuation of the “Karate Kid” move franchise; and an interactive series with YouTube game vlogger Markiplier. On the music front, YouTube’s originals have included projects with Alicia Keys, Demi Lovato, Camilo and Lewis Capaldi as well as “Released,” a weekly new-music program. The lineup also encompassed livestreamed concerts with Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Paul McCartney and Andrea Bocelli.
Last fall, YouTube debuted Will Smith’s “Best Shape of My Life,” an unscripted series following his latest fitness journey. The YouTube Originals unscripted slate also included shows and specials with Kevin Hart, Paris Hilton, MrBeast, Lele Pons and Bretman Rock, as well as documentary film “Life in a Day 2020” from director Kevin Macdonald and executive producer Ridley Scott.
Ready Kyncl’s full message about the shutdown of YouTube’s originals strategy:
An Update on YouTube Originals:
In 2016 we created YouTube Originals, a division within YouTube dedicated to great new programming with our creators and headed by industry veteran Susanne Daniels. As Global head of Originals, Susanne and her team created an international slate of award-winning programs collectively amassing billions of views, shining a light on incredible creators, important social topics, and introducing YouTube to new audiences. In short, YTO played an integral role in growing the YouTube creator economy.
Today, there are over 2M creators in the YouTube Partner Program and our creator community has never been more successful: we’ve paid more than $30B to creators, artists, and media companies over the last three years.
However, with rapid growth comes new opportunities and now our investments can make a greater impact on even more creators when applied towards other initiatives, like our Creator Shorts Fund, Black Voices Fund, and Live Shopping programming to name a few. Separately, Susanne has decided to leave YouTube and her last day will be March 1. I want to thank her for her vision, creativity and leadership.
Together, these factors contributed to our decision to reduce our YouTube Originals slate. Going forward, we will only be funding programs that are part of our 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.
Finally, I want to thank you, the creators, for partnering with us to create innovative and inspirational stories and look forward to growing your business on YouTube and beyond.