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  • Meerelle Cruz

Youtube Now Focuses On Creator Funding Initiatives Rather Than Original Programming

YouTube has revealed that its YouTube Originals program, which was once a key value add for its YouTube Premium service and a priority in the company's broader push to compete with burgeoning video-on-demand rivals like Netflix and Disney+, will be shut down.

YouTube has decided to wind down its original content, as stated by Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl, due to the retirement of long-time Originals leads Susanne Daniels, who is leaving after a slew of changes to her role. Daniels was brought in to oversee YouTube's Originals division in 2015, where she was entrusted with generating original programming for the platform. She has previously worked for The WB, Lifetime, and MTV.

Daniels' early work included the development of shows such as 'Cobra Kai' and program collaborations with celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin Hart, Demi Lovato, and Katy Perry. Those shows were initially only available to 'YouTube Red' subscribers, who paid $9.99 to gain access to YouTube's premium content.

YouTube Red was popular at first, but in 2018 it was split into YouTube Premium and YouTube Music to provide customers with more subscription options. Later in 2018, YouTube took the strategic choice to make its Premium content available for free, rather than requiring paying subscribers, aligning itself more closely with YouTube's general ad-supported viewing model and capitalizing on the platform's major strength in the audience and reach. However, YouTube has shifted away from original programming over time.

Daniels and her staff moved their focus to unscripted content in three areas, according to Variety: music, celebrity, and creator-focused originals, and instructional programming. The need for a dedicated originals division has been reduced to the point where YouTube believes that focusing elsewhere will be more beneficial. With over 2 million creators now participating in the YouTube partner program, forming a much more significant revenue and retention model for the platform, the need for a dedicated originals division has been reduced to the point where YouTube believes that focusing elsewhere will be more beneficial.

According to Kyncl:

"We will only finance programs that are part of the Black Voices and YouTube Kids grants in the future." We will stick to our word on currently contracted shows, and creators involved in those shows should expect to hear from us in the coming days."

Given its constant effort to attract more subscribers to YouTube Premium, and the widespread opposition, it makes sense for YouTube to focus on other areas while expanding its creator offering is also important for optimizing audience reach and resonance by tapping into the newest trends and movements.

Essentially, YouTube doesn't need to generate its original material and considering the number of original assets and programs that Disney, Netflix, and Amazon currently possess, it couldn't compete on this front either. In contrast to its true competitors, Meta and TikTok, YouTube can optimize its attractiveness by refocusing on creators. And, while YouTube would want to monopolize all types of digital media consumption, it's clear that scripted dramas aren't what YouTube viewers want from the app, at least not in the way that other VOD providers have accepted similar behavior.

The impact on YouTube will likely be limited, given the ongoing winding down of its originals, however, the re-allocation of its resources will likely result in a greater focus on artists. Does this imply that YouTube will no longer promote YouTube Premium? No, it doesn't work that way.

YouTube Premium has received a new annual payment option with the promise of removing bothersome advertising from your YouTube experience. This is the only reason to pay for Premium right now: there's no exclusive material, but you can avoid commercials. Which has always struck me as a slightly contradictory proposition - "we know our commercials are so annoying that some people will pay to have them turned off." Platforms must, however, generate revenue.

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