Although YouTube Red’s beginning has been far from groundbreaking, the company is far from ready to throw in the towel.
In a Television Critics Association panel this past Friday, Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s global head of content announced Red’s 2017 Fall Line up, which included “Cobra Kai”, a half-hour comedy spinoff of the popular 1984 movie “Karate Kid”. The 10-episode series order will reunite the film’s original stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka in their original roles.
“We are targeting an 18–49 audience with this, that is a part of an evolving strategy for YouTube Red,” Daniels responded when asked if the average YouTube viewer, who is well under the age of 34, would even know who Macchio and Zabka were.
The fact that Daniels said, “I don’t don’t know anyone who doesn’t know ‘Karate Kid’,” but couldn’t remember the name of the Red’s youngest youtuber-turned-actress with her own show on their network (Liza Koshi), might point to the company’s biggest issue. Not only is YouTube series oriented content more popular by far among younger viewers (who, most likely, cannot afford another subscription), but the company is now overestimating the interest that older, “Karate Kid”, audiences have in another streaming service.
Daniels went on to say that the company overall was attempting to broaden their subscription service audience. This is no doubt a reaction to their shows solely starring YouTubers followed by the sites younger demographic, not pulling the numbers they had hoped for. Although, Daniels stated that “some YouTube stars” had seen a 20% subscriber increase to their ad-supported (meaning free to watch) channels following the premiere of their subscription shows. However this evidence was through cited internal YouTube data.
The site is also beginning to create longer projects that mimic a television-length format, revising their original formula of 10–15 minutes shows. Daniels attributed the change to meeting the audience’s desire for “premium content”.
“I think it’s a psychological thing,” she said. “If you’re paying for premium content, you want it to look, feel, and smell premium.”
However Daniels refused to give exact numbers on just who was paying for this “premium content”, though she did say that the company was allegedly “overreaching ambitious goals”.
“Netflix didn’t share its subscription numbers in their early days either,” she said. “I can’t share that information today…We’re really excited about the way that we’re tracking subscription right now, and we’re going to continue to invest a lot in growing that further.”
In order to “grow further”, YouTube Red seems to be adopting the Netflix philosophy of ordering one of everything on the menu and seeing what satisfies the most people. From scripted comedies and dramas to an unscripted competition series, the company seems to have touched on every base. Fresh off her Emmy-nomination from Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”, Samira Wiley will guest-star along side Veronica Mars’ Ryan Hansen in the scripted comedy, “Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television”, set to premiere in October. Also debuting in the fall are 10 new series and movies, including ones starring Rhett & Link from “Good Mythical Morning”, Katy Perry, and Demi Lovato. Some of these new shows will be available for streaming outside of the paywall in an attempt to woo new subscribers.