YouTube may have its eye on movies and TV shows to beef up interest in its fledgling video subscription service amid an increasingly competitive market for online video.
YouTube executives have met with Hollywood studios and other production companies in recent months to discuss licenses for new content, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, which cited unidentified people familiar with the matter. The Google-owned video-sharing site is said to be seeking premium content for Red, its recently launched $10-a-month YouTube Red service, although it wasn't clear what films or programs were being pursued, the Journal reported.
YouTube representatives declined to comment.
The efforts, while described as being in the early stages, would underscore YouTube's ambitions to compete with leading subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu in the burgeoning online video market. Global revenue from online TV and video services is expected to reach $42 billion in 2020, more than twice the estimated $19 billion recorded last year, according to Digital TV Research.
Launched in October, YouTube Red serves all of YouTube's videos without ads, and it lets members save videos to watch offline on their phone or tablet as well as play videos in the background. It also includes exclusive original shows and movies by top YouTube talent.
YouTube executives have said they plan to focus on talent that rose to prominence on its site, rather than wooing more traditional stars to make films and series for YouTube Red. That contrasts with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which have won critical acclaim and greater popular awareness with edgy originals cast with traditional stars.
Now 10 years old, YouTube is using the relationships that Google Play has developed with movie studios and other premium video content owners to negotiate streaming deals, which it hopes to have in place by 2016, the Journal reported. Former programming chief of MTV Susanne Daniels and Kelly Merryman, a former Netflix content executive, are involved in these talks, the Journal reported.