YouTube to Spend Millions on Producing 40 New Original Shows

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Alphabet’s (GOOG) Google is gearing up to bring a slew of original series to YouTube, giving viewers access to free content as the company tries to lure more advertisers to the YouTube platform.

During an event for advertisers held in New York on Thursday, Google said it would create more than 40 new shows for YouTube with big names including comedian Kevin Hart and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who are creating shows that will debut on YouTube later in 2017. Google is reportedly spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the efforts, reported Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the matter. Google’s plan is to lure big-name advertisers like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), which is the exclusive sponsor for its upcoming music competition show “Best.Cover.Ever” hosted by Ryan Seacrest.

“We’re excited to partner with top creators and world-class production companies to offer these new shows to audiences globally—on the platform where the world chooses to watch over a billion hours of video every day,” the company said on the official YouTube blog. (See also: Google Launches New YouTube Site to Select Users.)

For Google and its YouTube platform, the move to create original content comes amid a backlash from advertisers over the placement of ads alongside questionable and controversial content. In March, Martin Sorrell, the CEO of advertising company WPP Group, warned the likes of Google and Facebook (FB) that they have to control where the advertisements are placed as well as clamp down on fake news that shows up in their feeds and online or risk losing advertisers. Amid all the controversy, Google has been taking steps to improve the placement of ads and to stop the spread of fake news on the Internet. (See also: Google Moves to Clean Up Fake News In Search)

While the controversy has done little to hurt sales at Google, there are some advertisers who are still concerned that YouTube relies too much on videos made by users that could result in ads ending up alongside offensive content. The push to create television show-like content with big name celebrities is an effort to assuage some of those worries.

According to Bloomberg, the idea of funding programs on YouTube that are ad-supported came about more than a year ago after company executives saw a study that showed many of the new shows that are popping up online are via premium services that do not have ads associated with them. Google saw an opening to offer free content to users and make money off the ads. “We’re turning the infrastructure we’ve built for original programming into supporting our biggest partners,’’ Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer told Bloomberg. “Nobody is doing it the way we are. Nobody can release originals on a global basis with the scale we have in advertising.’’

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