YouTube (mostly) abandons its original content ambitions

It's refocusing on Black Voices, Shorts and shopping.

ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

YouTube is further backing away from original productions. Business chief Robert Kyncl has revealed that YouTube is shrinking its Originals program. From now on, the unit will only finance projects that are part of its Black Voices and YouTube Kids Funds. The company will respect commitments for shows in progress, but you shouldn't expect other new productions.

The company is making the shift due to a combination of strategy and a key departure. YouTube believed it could have a "greater impact" on creators by funding Shorts, the Black Voices Fund and Live Shopping. At the same time, Originals global lead Susanne Daniels is leaving YouTube on March 1st. Now may have been a prime opportunity to rethink the program, in other words.

The change isn't a shock. YouTube initially had ambitions of competing with paid streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix with shows like Cobra Kai. While it had some success, it didn't pose a significant threat and eventually made Originals free. The new strategy lets YouTube fund more creators while giving it a better chance of competing with TikTok, Instagram and other short-form video rivals.