YouTube Plans Slate of Ad-Supported Originals From Kevin Hart, Ellen DeGeneres, Demi Lovato
The projects will not be a part of YouTube Red, the much-hyped subscription service that the Google-owned streamer launched in 2015.
YouTube continues to line up some big-name talent for its slate of originals, but shows with stars including Kevin Hart and Ellen DeGeneres will stream with ads instead of on its subscription-based service, Red.
The Google-owned streamer has tapped Hart, DeGeneres, Demi Lovato and YouTube stars Rhett & Link and The Slow Mo Guys for new projects, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. The deals come a few days after YouTube announced Ryan Seacrest-produced competition series Best. Cover. Ever., which will also debut on its ad-supported product.
The early projects in this new ad-supported original-programming push, announced Thursday evening as part of YouTube's annual advertiser pitch known as Brandcast, are all unscripted series. DeGeneres, through Ellen Digital Ventures and ellentube Studios, is offering a look behind the curtain of her daytime show in a series called Ellen's Show Me More Show, which will stream twice a week. Comedian Hart is hosting exercise series Kevin Hart: What the Fit?, which is produced by Lionsgate for his Laugh Out Loud channel on YouTube. Rhett & Link are adapting their YouTube-born Good Mythical Morning series, turning it into a long-form morning show. And special-effects YouTubers The Slow Mo Guys will release The Super Slow Show.
On his new series, Hart said, "Lionsgate and YouTube are great partners, and this collaboration allows me to add a whole new audience to my fan base and share with viewers around the world."
Other projects include I Am: Demi Lovato, in which the pop star will take viewers through a yearlong journey of reinvention and discovery as she works on her new album. Katy Perry, who was set to perform at Brandcast, will also team with YouTube on a series of ad-supported live concert videos during the promotion of her new album.
YouTube is expected to spend millions for more than three dozen projects, according to Bloomberg, which first reported on the new slate of series. That includes an investment into more originals for YouTube Red, in addition to the seven ad-supported series announced Thursday.
YouTube, which claims an audience of over 1 billion, was once hesitant to fund original programming. But in 2016, it began to debut a slate of traditional-length original films and television shows on Red, which costs $10 per month. But with Red, YouTube entered a competitive subscription streaming market already dominated by Netflix. The company has not disclosed how many subscribers it has added since the product's launch in October 2015.
Chief business officer Robert Kyncl said the move to create originals for YouTube's ad product was driven by the fact that such programs "are becoming more and more rare." He noted that, five years ago, 85 percent of original series were produced for ad-supported platforms. Today, that number has dropped to about 66 percent, he said, and "that trend is accelerating."