What just happened? YouTube is formally exiting the original content business. Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer, said the creation of YouTube Originals in 2016 played an integral role in growing their creator economy over the years. Today, YouTube’s Partner Program has over two million members that have collectively earned more than $30 billion over the last three years.
Kyncl said YouTube now believes it can make a greater impact by focusing on other initiatives, like its creator shorts fund, black voices fund and live shopping programming.
Also contributing to YouTube’s decision is the exit of Susanne Daniels, who has served as the global head of original content since the division was created. Kyncl said Daniels has decided to leave YouTube, noting that her last day will be March 1.
“I’m so proud that our YTO content could contribute to the ongoing growth and success of this remarkable platform, and I look forward to new adventures ahead,” Daniels told Variety.
YouTube aspired to compete with heavyweights like Amazon and Netflix in the original content space. The division managed to create some memorable content including Cobra Kai, a modern-day spin-off of The Karate Kid series, and Step Up, which was based on the film series by the same name. YouTube ultimately jettisoned both of those projects, with Cobra Kai going to Netflix and Starz acquiring Step Up.
but once YouTube said it would make future original programming available for free through an ad-supported model, most suspected expensive originals weren’t long for this world.
Image credit: Adam Fejes