YouTube cancels two original series but denies moving away from original content

 theverge.com  03/25/2019 16:48:48  2  Jon Porter
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

YouTube has canceled two of its biggest original series, Origin and Overthinking with Kat & June, a spokesperson for the company has told The Verge. The announcement came in response to a report from Bloomberg, which said that the Google-owned company no longer plans to compete with the likes of Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, and is not accepting pitches for new expensive scripted shows. A YouTube spokesperson denied the report, and said that the service currently has several scripted shows in development.

The news comes as Apple is gearing up to make its own push into original content with today’s expected launch of a new streaming TV service. Apple plans to spend as much as $2 billion on original content this year from established Hollywood figures like Oprah Winfrey and Chris Evans. Initially, the service is expected to rely more heavily on third-party shows from channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz as Apple builds out its own original programming.

At one point, Google had very different plans for its streaming service, which it hoped would offer original content exclusively to paid subscribers. However, late last year, reports emerged that the company would be shifting its focus away from subscriptions and instead focus on sponsorships and ad support for its future shows.

According to Bloomberg’s report, YouTube Premium (originally called YouTube Red) is expected to continue to be available, but its focus will be on music rather than premium original content. Along with including music-focused features such as background playback, YouTube has also commissioned programming about emerging music artists. Although original video content will continue, it will increasingly be made in collaboration with YouTube creators rather than Hollywood stars and studios.

Responding to the report, a spokesperson from YouTube confirmed that the two series named by Bloomberg have been cancelled, but said that its plans to produce high-end dramas and comedies remain unchanged. It added that it currently has “several scripted projects in development.” Finally, it confirmed that it plans to develop a new ad-supported model by the end of the year, with a slate of “new and returning hits” due to be announced in the coming weeks.

Update March 25th, 12:50PM ET: Updated to include a response from a YouTube spokesperson.

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