YouTube Red, Google’s paid video streaming service, has purchased its first big-budget television series, reports The New York Times. The show will be called Step Up, and it’s based on the Channing Tatum dance drama franchise of the same name. Lionsgate, which produced the franchise’s fourth and fifth iterations, will deliver a 10-episode season with each episode running 45 minutes in length. Tatum is onboard as an executive producer, and the show is said to resemble the first film in the series with a setting at a performing arts high school.
While the choice may sound seemingly out of left field, it does mark YouTube’s first foray into expensive, Hollywood-caliber original programming. Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s global head of original content, told The New York Times that Step Up will be a way to “drive subscription” to YouTube Red. Prior to today, YouTube Red featured exclusive shows from web-native entertainers like YouTube star Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg and Rooster Teeth Productions. Daniels acknowledges the “fine line” the company must walk to maintain its appeal among younger audiences who grew up watching YouTube more than network television, and probably couldn’t care less about a Step Up TV show.
YouTube wants its subscription service to be a destination for original programming
YouTube Red costs $10 a month, and it’s main draw is not original programming, but access to the video platform’s enormous library of content without having to view advertising. Yet by partnering with Lionsgate, which produces Orange is the New Black for Netflix and Casual for Hulu, YouTube is hoping to establish itself as a destination for content you can’t get anywhere else.
Like Amazon, YouTube is able to toss in perks that make its subscription service more appealing. For instance, YouTube Red subscribers get access to a sizable library of music, letting the service double as a Spotify competitor. YouTube also has a strong pedigree as arguably the most well-known destination for online video on the internet. So unlike with Verizon and its Go90 app or the failed ambitions of so many other tech companies (like Yahoo), YouTube doesn’t need to convince consumers it’s a viable destination for video. It just needs them to start paying for it.