Will Smith and Jack Whitehall are among the star names leading YouTube’s new slate of branded originals.
This month saw the video giant host its annual Brandcast event, where it unveils trends and updates for the site, as well as announce its latest free commissions, from shows featuring popular YouTubers to projects with Hollywood celebrities and comedians. These are part of YouTube’s push not to populate its subscription YouTube Red service, but to parter with brands such as Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Ulta Beauty, LL Bean and more to create ad-supported videos for everyone to see.
From the Slow Mo Guys to Kevin Hart, YouTube’s first year slate of brand-sponsored shows amassed over 700 million views across all episodes and related clips, with Katy Perry’s 96-hour livestream, Witness World Wide, named one of Time Magazine’s Top 10 TV shows of 2017. In its second year of the initiative, YouTube says it wants to “[use] the global reach of YouTube to shine a light on the human stories that inspire us, make us smarter and demonstrate the potential of what we can achieve”.
It has ordered new series from Jack Whitehall, who will take us behind the scenes of the footballing world, a new documentary series following the Newark Central High School Blue Devils, produced by LeBron, and another run from the Slow Mo Guys. Most eye-catching, perhaps, is Will Smith’s new YouTube special, which will see him make good on his promise to bungee jump from a helicopter for charity, after being challenged to do so by fans on the website.
YouTube will also be rolling out more Artist Spotlight Stories —intimate and personal video portraits of music artists who are pushing the boundaries of creativity and connecting with fans – with artists including Shawn Mendes, J Balvin, Janelle Monáe, and more.
Every one of these branded shows will be available through Google Preferred, YouTube’s our premium content offering for advertisers, so that brands can continue to access some of the most popular stars on the site – according to YouTube, Google Preferred Lineups reach more 18-49 year-olds monthly than any cable network or full episode player. After a problematic year with tighter regulations and closer monitoring to crack down on inappropriate content, YouTube is doubling down on that ad reach to woo advertisers, adding its complete music universe, including eligible VEVO channels and videos, to the Google Preferred network – giving brands the unprecedented opportunity to advertise against virtually all music in the world. YouTube will also be the livestream partner of the Global Citizen Festival, and has renewed its partnership with Coachella for an additional three years.
Content, though, continues to be the cornerstone upon which all of this works.
“Primetime is no longer defined by the time the show is aired, but by the connection that content has with its audience,” says Kate Stanford, Head of Global Advertiser Marketing at YouTube. “We see this reflected through over 150 million hours of YouTube watchtime per day on TV screens alone. In this next era of entertainment and information, we’re more committed than ever to YouTube being a platform for fresh voices, authentic stories, and thought-provoking dialogue.”
Here’s the line-up announced by YouTube this year:
Will Smith: The Jump Off
In partnership with Westbrook Entertainment, Will Smith is going to epic heights in his new YouTube Original, Will Smith: The Jump Off. In this special, Will accepts the ultimate YouTube fan challenge to bungee jump from a helicopter—all to raise awareness for charity. The cameras will follow him as he prepares for the big jump, which we’ll livestream on his birthday.
Priyanka Chopra: If I Could Tell You Just One Thing
From Sundog Pictures, Priyanka Chopra will go on a personal journey to meet the world’s most successful and inspirational people—each time asking them for advice they feel can change the world. From actors and politicians to religious leaders and environmentalists, star of the show Priyanka will speak with the people who will go down in history as having challenged the status quo.
Executive produced by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, Best Shot is a new documentary series following the Newark Central High School Blue Devils as they find community through basketball and receive mentorship from former NBA player Jay Williams. Directed by Michael John Warren and produced by SpringHill Entertainment and Boardwalk Pictures in association with Blue Ribbon Content, Best Shot will debut on the NBA YouTube channel this summer.
Demi Lovato Project (Untitled)
In her new YouTube Original, Demi is returning to show fans a side of herself beyond her music to raise awareness about issues that matter. Demi will draw from personal experiences and passions to pay it forward to some of her biggest fans and closest friends. From Philymack Productions and London Alley.
The Super Slow Show: Season 2
In partnership with Rooster Teeth Productions, the Slow Mo Guys are returning with a renewed focus on science, technology, engineering and math. Through the lens of education, the Slow Mo Guys will explore the tiniest phenomena and greatest spectacles, all in slow motion.
Kevin Hart: What the Fit: Season 2
Kevin Hart is returning with even bigger punch lines and celebrity guests. In partnership with Lionsgate and Laugh Out Loud Network, this second season will raise more awareness of healthy living and wellness, as Kevin and his celebrity friends try out some of the most unique and outlandish workout routines.
Jack Whitehall: Training Days
In this show, comedian and actor Jack Whitehall trains with the world’s most elite soccer players—and has a little behind-the-scenes fun in the process. Sponsored by Wendy’s in the U.S., Training Days is executive produced by James Corden and Fulwell 73 and will launch to fans around the world on Jack’s YouTube channel on 9th May, ahead of the World Cup. Here’s the trailer:
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