YouTube is looking to secure the rights to TV shows and movies to stream on its new YouTube Red subscription service, The Wall Street Journal reports, a move that could allow it to build up a catalog of on-demand video to rival competitors Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Instant Video. YouTube executives have met with movie studios and production companies in recent months, the WSJ says, as part of early efforts to review pitches and hammer out potential deals for content that could be streamed on the $9.99-a-month service.
It's not clear which studios YouTube is speaking to
People familiar with the deal did not specify which movies or TV shows YouTube is making attempts to secure, but noted that the talks are being conducted by Susanne Daniels and Kelly Merryman, both of whom report to Robert Kyncl. Daniels was MTV's programming head before she was lured over to YouTube in July, while Merryman previously worked at Netflix along with Kyncl, who now serves as YouTube's chief business officer. In making potential deals, YouTube executives are apparently using existing relationships between Google Play and movie studios, as both elements of Google holding company Alphabet share a Beverly Hills office.
The WSJ's sources indicate that where Netflix and other rivals have snapped up older TV shows and movies to bolster their catalogs, YouTube will focus on new material, which could be shown exclusively on YouTube Red, or released in theaters, on DVDs, or through other channels. The company is reportedly still weighing up just how much to license but wants to have "a robust collection of original programming and licensed programming in 2016 and beyond."
Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services only started to make their own shows after first building their subscription bases with large catalogs of older TV shows and movies. YouTube Red, on the other hand, launched with a slate of "Originals" — shows available to subscribers only that made use of YouTube's home-grown megastars. Being able to draw on the million-strong fanbases of video producers such as Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg gives YouTube Red a running start at the streaming market, but the reported talks with Hollywood studios suggest the service is making efforts to cover all the bases, in an effort to stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.