YouTube has announced plans to produce a raft of original programming beginning this year, as the Google-owned video site moves to counter the rising tide of premium streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.
The difference in YouTube's approach to original content is that its shows will be free to view on its website and apps through an ad-supported format, rather than being tied to the company's ad-free $9.99 YouTube Red subscription service.
The company will make a multi-million dollar investment in more than 40 original shows and movies in the next year, according to sources who spoke to Bloomberg. YouTube hopes that high-profile stars will feature in the content and that this will in turn attract bigger advertisers to sponsor the programming.
"We're working with YouTube stars and big celebrities that we know have global appeal, advertiser appeal and are largely established on the platform," Susanne Daniels, YouTube's head of original content, said in an interview.
YouTube has signed up comedian Kevin Hart and TV host Ellen DeGeneres as its first two high-profile celebrities. Hart's show will be a workout-based series, while DeGeneres' program will give fans a peak backstage into the making of her talkshow.
Katy Perry and Demi Lovato also announced behind-the-scenes shows with YouTube, while TV and radio personality Ryan Seacrest confirmed his involvement in a music competition called "Best.Cover.Ever", which will debut on the site later this year.
YouTube's original content plans were announced at the annual digital NewFronts conference in New York on Friday.