YouTube – the world’s leading online video platform – has announced significant cuts to its original content production. The company will now only fund originals that its YouTube Kids Fund and Black Voices Fund (a $100 million programme set up by the company to amplify black creators on the website) have been earmarked for.
The Original Content division of the company was established in 2016 to create exclusive content for YouTube’s premium pay-per-month service. Initially the division focused on producing scripted shows and movies centring on star creators, such as the comedy series Scare PewDiePie. YouTube’s most popular series have included Hollywood style drama series Cobra Kai – which has now been sold to Netflix – comedy Liza on Demand, and docuseries Justin Bieber: Seasons.
Later the company began making ad-supported content available to viewers without a YouTube Premium subscription, and creating unscripted shows featuring celebrities such as Kevin Hart, Will Smith and Katy Perry.
After six years of expanding its catalogue of original productions, the Original Content division has now been shut down. The division’s Global Head, Susanna Daniels, will be leaving the company in March this year. YouTube has assured creators that it will honour existing commitments to shows already in production.
In a statement released on social media platform Twitter, Robert Kyncl, Chief Business Officer for YouTube, said that the growth of the companies’ Partner Program for ad revenue sharing with creators, was a factor in the recent decision. He said: “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”.
In Q3 2021, the video platform’s ad revenues reached a record $7.2B – a figure which represents an astonishing 43% annual increase. The company also reports 50 million subscribers for its music and YouTube Premium services.