YouTube Red’s Original Programming, Explained

YouTube Red is debuting its original programming next week, which, in theory, is going to be the overly expensive service’s big draw. $10 a month for no ads and saving videos to watch later has seemed pretty steep to many people, so the original content is pretty important, not to mention what’s presumably the beginnings of YouTube’s attempt to challenge Netflix.

The shows are all from YouTube’s most popular channels, and include:

A Trip To Unicorn Island

Produced by Astronauts Wanted, which is essentially Sony Music’s Internet video subsidiary, this documentary follows sketch comedian/positivity guru Lilly Singh‘s 26-city tour.

Dance Camp

From AwesomenessTV, this appears to be either an overly earnest dance movie aimed at teens or an overly affectionate satire of dance movies aimed at teens.

Lazer Team

An SF action comedy from nerd-skit team Rooster Teeth, this follows a bunch of losers who accidentally don the various parts of a suit created to fight alien warriors, and have to work together to not die and/or save the Earth.

Scare PewDiePie

The one actual series debuting next week, this follows genial gamer PewDiePie, most notable for his over-the-top reactions to pretty much anything remotely scary in a video game, trying to get through various haunted houses and other real life horror games with some shred of his dignity intact.

Overall, it’s not a bad first effort, but it does raise a few questions. Not the least of which is, where are the ongoing series YouTube promised? Part of the reason YouTube Red has been so controversial is that Google strongarmed every “content partner” into a YouTube Red deal to get more content for its subscription service. And it needs that content: Netflix is turning out 31 original series this year and Amazon, while not quite as ambitious in production, has quite a few originals in the works itself, not to mention new seasons of shows like Bosch.

Secondly, who’s the target audience? PewDiePie, AwesomenessTV, and Lilly Singh all tend to have heavily teenaged audiences, not exactly the group most prone to sign up for subscription services. Even though the original content looks quite good, it’s the ongoing series that make any streaming service worth it. If YouTube Red is going to compete with the big boys, it needs to deliver more, and faster.

(Via YouTube Blog)