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YouTube will stop making most original shows

Going forward, the company will only fund programs that are part of Black Voices and YouTube Kids Funds

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

YouTube will scale back a significant portion of YouTube Originals, which produced original content including scripted series, educational videos, and music and celebrity programming. Chief business officer for YouTube Robert Kyncl announced the changes today in a statement on Twitter.

Going forward, the company will only fund originals in the YouTube Kids Fund and the Black Voices Fund, a program created in 2020 that committed $100 million to “amplify” Black creators on the platform.

“With rapid growth comes new opportunities and now our investments can make a greater impact on even more creators when applied towards other initiatives, like our Creator Shorts Fund, Black Voices Fund, and Live Shopping programming to name a few,” the statement reads.

YouTube Originals has changed approaches throughout the years. Created in 2016 and led by Susanne Daniels, it began with scripted shows and movies focused on creators, like comedy-thriller series Scare PewDiePie. In 2017, YouTube said the subscriber-only first season of originals racked up 250 million views. The company began pivoting toward ad-supported content featuring celebrities like Katy Perry and Kevin Hart, free for users to access without a subscription.

But over six years, YouTube made few titles that looked like breakout hits. And by the end, it was unclear what the original programming provided strategically to a service that’s already one of the most popular video destinations in the world.

Today’s statement also announced Daniels will depart the company in March, which also contributed to the decision to scale back the division.

New original programs were being announced as recently as last year, including series featuring Will Smith and Alicia Keys. YouTube says it will honor existing commitments for shows in progress and will contact creators in the coming days.