YouTube offers free original programs targeting more revenue

Alphabet’s YouTube announced 9 new original programs that will be available for free this year.
YouTube-logoYouTube has revealed the details at an event for advertisers and media in New York offering the first glimpse at how the shift announced in November away from subscriber-only content will play out across the world, Reuters reported.

Programming – under YouTube’s chief business officer, Robert Kyncl — has turned out to be less of a draw for YouTube Premium subscribers than ad-free viewing and other perks, while YouTube has faced pressure from advertisers to increase its supply of television-like content that is suitable for sponsorship.

New programs include a documentary about Dude Perfect, a group that performs sports tricks, and an interactive series featuring YouTube star Mark Fischbach that lets viewers control the storyline.

YouTube will also stream an investigation show from media start-up Vox and standalone films from The School of Life channel that explore the greatest philosophical questions of our age.

YouTube will announce more programs later this year. YouTube plans to direct half of its development budget to programs aimed at viewers outside the United States.

Alphabet does not reveal revenue of YouTube, which is part of Google. Analysts expressed concern that advertiser scrutiny of user-generated inappropriate or offensive content on YouTube could be among reasons for a slowdown in revenue growth at Google.

Alphabet reported revenue of $36.339 billion with 17 percent increase in Q1 2019 as against $31.146 billion with 26 percent growth in Q1 2018. Alphabet said the financial performance was driven by YouTube and Cloud.

YouTube said it is testing content-related benefits for subscribers. For instance, all episodes from the next season of its popular show “Cobra Kai,” which is based on the Karate Kid movie franchise, will be available to subscribers when it launches. Non-subscribers will gain access to one new episode per week, similar to the rollout of shows on traditional television.

New episodes of a handful of existing programs are likely to remain subscriber-only because of prior commitments.

YouTube showcased only one international program on Thursday, a documentary due in June on Latin American pop star Maluma. YouTube streamed about a dozen original shows and movies over the last year targeting several international markets including France, Germany, India, South Korea and Japan.

YouTube has shifted gears several times on original programming since making it a focus in 2011. Among debates have been whether ad sales alone could be enough to generate a return on investment, especially for expensive scripted shows.

YouTube has debuted about 75 shows and 28 films under its previous strategy, which was launched in 2016, according to a Reuters tally. Thirteen of those shows so far went onto multiple seasons. Though some shows drew significant viewership to free samples, they were not renewed because they struggled to convert users into subscribers, according to content makers.