YouTube Red launched last October, but the paid version of the popular video platform is getting its close-up today, debuting its first four original shows.
As with any new subscription service in its early days, YouTube would not share specifics on subscriber numbers. Though, one of its most influential creators, Hank Green, ran an informal Twitter poll Monday to gauge how many people were actually paying $10 a month for ad-free content and YouTube's music service—and the numbers weren't promising.
Are you a paying YouTube Red user?— Hank Green (@hankgreen) February 8, 2016
Green followed up that tweet with one today showing how Red is affecting the bottom line of existing channels:
If you would like to check to see how YouTube Red is affecting your channel earnings, I have created a spreadsheet: https://t.co/eUuUUxQ4OZ— Hank Green (@hankgreen) February 10, 2016
Unlike bigger subscription services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, YouTube isn't banking on how many subscribers it can sign up. Instead, YouTube views Red as an additive service, more like a paywall for premium content. And, as of today, that content includes the following:
- Scare PewDiePie: This reality-adventure series from Skybound Entertainment (The Walking Dead) puts PewDiePie, the most popular YouTube creator, through terrifying experiences inspired by video games.
- A Trip to Unicorn Island: This feature-length movie follows Lilly Singh as she embarks on a 26-city global tour during which she has to remember to practice what she preaches: Happiness is the only thing worth fighting for.
- Lazer Team: From Rooster Teeth and Fullscreen Films, four small-town losers stumble upon an alien ship carrying mysterious cargo, leading to a battle to save Earth from an all-powerful enemy.
- Dance Camp: This film from AwesomenessTV weaves an amazing story of unlikely friendships, unleashing passions and discovering yourself through the power of dance.
YouTube is adamant it's not trying to compete with Netflix, which is pumping $6 billion into its content offerings in 2016. But it is paying up for more original content from its other top creators including Jesse and Jeana of PrankvsPrank teaching celebrities how to pull off pranks; a reality-competition series from Albine Labs that puts YouTube creators in a zombie apocalypse; a 360-VR series that throws gamers into the high-stakes scenarios they play through every day; and CollegeHumor's Bad Internet, which takes an absurdist look at Internet culture.
YouTube also announced today it has ordered an additional two projects for Red, including a high-school comedy with Vine star Logan Paul, who was featured in an Adweek cover story on Jan. 24, and a feature-length, transgender-themed documentary with Gigi Gorgeous.