YouTube is moving with the times and making a concerted push into interactive programming.
The online video giant has been striving to gain traction with its YouTube Originals, as a key part of its YouTube Premium subscription service, and part of that success will rely on being able to produce content that keeps pace with its rivals. With Netflix today unveiling You vs. Wild, an interactive survival series featuring Bear Grylls, and enjoying success with Black Mirror: Bandersnatch at Christmas, the pressure is on for YouTube and others not to be left behind.
YouTube, therefore, is developing a new slate of interactive and live content. The initiative is being headed by Ben Relles, who was head of unscripted for YouTube Originals and has now been promoted to head of innovation. Relles has previously overseen the development of several high-profile unscripted titles, including What the Fit? from Kevin Hart and The Jump from Will Smith.
Continuing to report into Susanne Daniels, global head of original content, Relles’ newly created role will involve him looking to boost engagement with viewers and showcasing ways they can interact and participate with content. Relles’ team also will focus on integrating interactive features across the full range of scripted and unscripted YouTube Originals.
“We now have amazing new tools and opportunities to create and tell multilayered and interactive stories,” Daniels said in a statement to Variety. “Ben has an intuitive and experienced understanding of how the platform can enhance content making him the perfect choice to develop this exciting new division.”
Relles’ new role comes as YouTube is also looking to shake things up in terms of its own distribution: the site is shifting to a new strategy, Single Slate, that will offer its YouTube Originals to non-YouTube Premium users as well, with some exclusive windowing for subscribers. The move is hoped to bring in revenue for YouTube through its traditional ad-supported platform, rather than rely solely on SVOD.