YouTube Orders Original Programs from AwesomenessTV, Gigi Gorgeous

Google’s video site keeps hammering at Netflix’s strategy with a documentary and series starring talent native to the platform

YouTube has ordered an original series from AwesomenessTV and a documentary about Internet personality Gigi Gorgeous’ transition to a transgender woman.

The new content, announced on Wednesday, is the latest in the pipeline that Google’s massive video site is building to lure fans of digital stars into $10 monthly subscriptions that allow them to see these creators’ content first. The original programming is one of the main perks of a YouTube Red subscription, which also strips out ads and lets users watch videos offline.

Red is YouTube’s take on the original-content strategy that turned Netflix into a deep-pocketed Hollywood force. Like Netflix, YouTube is making shows it knows have built-in audiences thanks to reams of viewership data. Rather than investing in projects with big-name traditional stars, YouTube is turning to the young digital personalities who have built their followings on their own online.

Wednesday’s example of that strategy includes an untitled Gigi Gorgeous project, in which the namesake YouTube creator will create a feature-length documentary exploring the journey of a transgender woman.

From Hearst and Dreamworks Animation’s AwesomenessTV, YouTube picked up original series “Foursome,” starring Jenn McAllister, known online as JennxPenn, whose character navigates “the hormone-induced journey” of high school with her three best friends.

YouTube also said the next few months would see the launch of other, previously announced projects, including “Prank Academy” from Jesse and Jeana of PrankvsPrank; “Fight of the Living Dead,” which sticks popular YouTube talent in a fake zombie apocalypse; a series and virtual reality experience about real-life science from MatPat; and a series from the cast of CollegeHumor looking at Internet culture.

The first of YouTube Red’s original series launched Wednesday, as previously announced.