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YouTube Shuts Down Original Content Group to Focus on Creator-Driven Initiatives

YouTube will no longer produce original content. According to Variety, the company announced it will shut down its original productions team after six years.

YouTube Originals was launched in 2016 as a way for the video website to get into the streaming business alongside Netflix and Hulu. Notable content created under the banner included the 2020 docuseries Justin Bieber: Seasons (directed by Michael D. Ratner), the comedy series Liza on Demand (starring Liza Koshy, Kimiko Glenn, and Travis Coles), and The Karate Kid‘s sequel television series Cobra Kai (starring Ralph Macchio and William Zabka). In 2018, YouTube shifted its focus away from scripted movies and television, and focused on music, celebrity and creator-focused originals, and educational programming.

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After this shift, Cobra Kai moved to Netflix for its third season, and a television version of the Step Up film series is scheduled to have its third season premiere on Starz. Showtime later acquired the rights for the comedy series On Becoming a God in Central Florida (starring Kirsten Dunst and Theodore Pellerin), after it was previously developed as a YouTube Original series. The focus on music programming for YouTube Originals included projects with Alicia Keys, Demi Lovato, Camilo and Lewis Capaldi. It also featured livestreamed concerts with Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Paul McCartney, and Andrea Bocelli. Some of YouTube Original’s most recent content included Best Shape of My Life, a series following Will Smith‘s fitness journey, and the documentary film Life in a Day 2020 (directed by Kevin Macdonald).


Gianni DeCenzo and Mary Mouser in Cobra Kai
Image via Netflix

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YouTube Original’s upcoming slate included projects with Kevin Hart, Paris Hilton, MrBeast, Lele Pons, and Bretman Rock. “We will honor our commitment for already contracted shows in progress and creators who are involved with those shows should expect to hear from us directly in the coming days,” said Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer. Once YouTube Originals is shut down, the company will only be funding projects that are part of YouTube’s Black Voices and YouTube Kids. One of the reasons for ending YouTube Originals was the success of the YouTube Partner Program, which includes more than two million content creators. In the past three years, YouTube has paid more than $30 billion to content creators, artists, and media companies. “Now our investments can make a greater impact on even more creators when applied towards other initiatives,” said Kyncl. It was also recently announced that Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s global head of original content, will be leaving the company in March.


YouTube Original’s Best Shape of My Life and Life in a Day 2020 are currently available to watch on YouTube.


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William Zabka Teases ‘Cobra Kai’ Season 3 and Reveals ‘Karate Kid’ Sequel Pitch from Pat Morita

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