Digital Media

YouTube pays (more) stars to make new shows

The video site is paying top stars again, investing in popular entertainers like Smosh and the Fine Brothers of "Kids React..." fame to make new shows and feature-length movies.

Anthony Padilla (left) and Ian Hecox have amassed more than 4 billion views of videos on their Smosh YouTube channel. YouTube

YouTube will invest more money in the people who have built up big followings on the site, paying creators Smosh and the Fine Brothers to craft new series and creating feature films.

Google's site is the undisputed king of free videos, with more than a billion people visiting it every month and watching years' worth of video every minute. But as advertising dollars shift online from traditional media like television, YouTube competitors like Vessel and Vimeo have been courting YouTube's stars with promises of more and better ways to make money.

YouTube has paid creators in the past. In 2011, it spent $100 million to launch channels in an effort to make YouTube feel more like regular TV -- though many of the investments went to established media brands rather than ones that started out online. In September, YouTube said it would invest in top online stars.

On Tuesday, YouTube head of originals Alex Carloss said the company will release several feature-length films over the next two years, working with AwesomenessTV, a network of teen YouTube channels bought by Dreamworks in 2013. The films will all premiere on YouTube, with the first one slated for release this fall.

YouTube will also be paying stars like Smosh, a comedy duo with more than 10 million subscribers to their main YouTube channel, to make series for the site. Smosh's Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox will make a series of videos of themselves working at a theme restaurant. The Fine Brothers, known for their videos showing kids or older people reacting to things outside their cultural scope, will make a scripted series satirizing singing competition shows.

The company is also investing in a murder-mystery reality show with Joey Graceffa and celebrity pranks with the team behind Prank vs. Prank.

YouTube declined to specify financial terms of the deals.

Update, 8:20 a.m. PT:YouTube declined comment.