YouTube: A place once only home to cat videos, and weird guys talking to a camera has evolved to…well okay never mind, those still exist. But the site has now become a behemoth and is practically the only place to go for online video consumption. Moreover, YouTube is no longer a place where it’s only one individual creating their own content; though it may seem that way for some, more likely than not they are backed by a larger studio (i.e Maker, FullScreen, RoosterTeeth – Though RT is also backed by FullScreen, they also acquire multiple channels). Some YouTubers have grown so big that they themselves have created their own companies (i.e Equals Three, TheFineBros, Smosh). These few YouTubers/Studios alone garner hundreds of millions of views across their multiple channels every month (then you have a guy like PewDiePie who garners more than that from just his one channel…). With those numbers you can see why YouTube would want to grow even larger from being simply a place where people go to watch videos on the toilet, to a full scale production company with movies, T.V shows, and documentaries all under their name. Which is exactly why they launched a little thing called YouTube Red. Now we’ve seen YouTube bleed into the mainstream with many YouTubers like Smosh already having their own movie now available on Netflix, but this is different in the sense that all the exclusive productions YouTube Red will make, is all going to be “by YouTube.” Though with huge companies like Amazon, Hulu, and especially Netflix already experienced in the online subscription based streaming service, it seems YouTube Red has a ways to catch up to consider themselves a solid contender.
YouTube Red is an online subscription based platform that allows it’s users to watch all of YouTube’s content completely ad free. Now for the monthly fee of $9.99, the price tag seems a tad hefty to only watch videos you could already watch for free, simply without ads (and also access to Google Play Music; but let’s be real, no one uses that). But soon after they also announced that sometime during early 2016, subscribers will also get access to all of it’s exclusive and original content, which includes both movies and T.V shows. Well, it’s 2016, and YouTube has already released it’s first lineup of exclusives. Let’s take a look at how they look:
First up we have, “A Trip To Unicorn Island” a documentary following one of YouTube’s biggest stars: Lilly Sing, or more commonly known as, iiSuperwomanii. SuperWoman is a comedian who does an array of different videos, but she is also known to be quite the motivational speaker. “A Trip To Unicorn Island” is produced by Astronauts Wanted and follows Lilly on her journey throughout her incredible 26-city global tour.
“Lazer Team” is a full-length feature film brought to you by Burnie Burns and his gang at Rooster Teeth. It’s an action comedy that features many familiar faces for those who keep up with Rooster Teeth’s YouTube channels. The movie was budgeted at a mere 2.5 million according to IMDB, though for YouTube that budget is still quite impressive. What’s more impressive is that as of February 5th, the movie has made up almost half that budget, only a week after it’s limited release. Though the movie got mixed reviews both critically and by fans (6.1 IMDB, 40% Metacritic), it’s still easily one of the bigger projects by YouTube and is commendable that it’s come this far.
“Dance Camp” is a film by Awesomeness Films and follows the story of a teenager finding and pursuing his passion for dance. It’s an old story, and after a couple quick searches online regarding it’s reception, doesn’t seem to bring anything new to the table.
…And if a mix between “Step Up 2: The Streets,” “American Pie Presents Band Camp,” and The Disney Channel sounds good to you, you might just love this movie.” – Nathan McAlone, Business Insider
And Lastly, we have “Scare PewDiePie.” YouTube’s breakout star and highest paid creator has joined YouTube Red with his own production, which has him going through real life versions of video games. It’s much of what we’ve already seen our Swedish love doing with his own channel, but this production simply transforms that formula and brings it into “Live Action” if you will.
YouTube Red has many more productions lined up and this is merely the start of it. I could go on to list all the other stuff that they announced such as “Sing It” by TheFineBros and “360 Project” by Game Theory’s MatPat, but that’s not what this article is about. Let’s get into the real question: “Does YouTube Red stand a chance against Netflix and Others?” – To put it simply…No.
Well, not yet, at least. Netflix and Amazon, and even Hulu, are HUGE. Not only does Netflix give users an extremely vast array of famous T.V shows, Movies, and Documentaries both new and old, but they have a long list of original titles. Not only that, they’re original content is actually GOOD. Now listen, I’m in no position to judge the content released by YTR (I got tired of writing YouTube Red so YTR will be the official acronym) but they cannot be serious in thinking that these handful of titles are anywhere near the quality of content produced by Netflix. Netflix has shows like “Orange is the New Black” “Daredevil” “Master of None” “House of Cards” and movies like “Beasts of No Nation” to name a FEW. Amazon is also right there with great shows like, “Mozart in The Jungle” and “Transparent.” The list goes on, and on, and on. And every one of these shows that I’ve listed have been showered with accolades by almost every big award show. And what’s funny is that Netflix and Amazon both offer their services for ~ the same amount YTR charges.
Again, YTR is young, very young, actually, it hasn’t even been “born” yet. Right now, it’s still swivelling around their own atmosphere doing these original projects with their own YouTube personalities. And that may not be a bad thing, and it’s definitely cool to see our favourite online guys doing these bigger projects within the same realm; but it still makes YouTube continue to be trapped within themselves. I don’t want to take away what they’ve done and what they’re going to continue to do in terms of original long-form content; but they need to begin going outside of their own circle and moreover, begin expanding their audience demographic to attract older viewers to even be taken seriously.
I’m a lover of YouTube, and a lover of all the people I follow on YouTube. But if they want to be taken seriously and actually put up a fight against the big streaming giants known as Netflix and Amazon, they need to reconsider their approach when tackling their original content to really show people that their more than just “YouTube.”
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!