Variety reports that Google’s original video content group, YouTube Originals, is dead. The YouTube division was founded six years ago to create exclusive, original content for the monthly paying YouTube Premium service. Now the group is shutting down and YouTube’s global head of original content, Susanne Daniels, is leaving the company in March.
Just after the news broke, YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl posted a statement on Twitter:
An update on YouTube Originals: pic.twitter.com/PixhgZ2yhU
— Robert Kyncl (@rkyncl) January 18, 2022
YouTube is the de facto video site of the web, but Google still tends to chase every new trend in web video. YouTube Shorts is a clone of TikTok. YouTube Gaming is a clone of Twitch. YouTube Stories was meant to be a response to Snapchat. YouTube Originals was a swipe at Netflix, which garnered attention in 2016 with award-winning shows such as House of cards and Orange is the new black† At the time, the $12 a month YouTube Premium started out as “YouTube Red” and the offering was called YouTube Red Originals.
Initially, YouTube put an unmistakable YouTube spin on original content and threw big budgets at the creators of the platform’s star content, resulting in shows like Scare PewDiePiemade by the executive producers of The Walking Dead† YouTube Originals ultimately revolved around producing more Hollywood-style content and had some success in 2018 with The karate kid follow-up Cobra Kai.
We’ve seen this story from Google about a million times: After a new initiative doesn’t immediately achieve incredible success, the company begins to scale back after about two years. Towards the end of 2018, reports emerged that YouTube was shifting its focus and that YouTube Originals would be ad-supported just like regular YouTube videos. YouTube Originals’ more successful projects have moved to other video services, and Netflix is picking up Cobra Kai for seasons 3 and 4.
Today, YouTube Premium is still available for $12 a month. Its main advantages are YouTube and YouTube Music with no ads, while the mobile app gets background playback and the ability to download content for offline use.