YouTube Red Gets First High-Profile Original Series in 'Step Up'

Paid Service Joins a Party Already Crowded With Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Others

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YouTube at VidCon
YouTube at VidCon Credit: Filmmagic for YouTube

YouTube Red is moving from a home for originals from native creators to one with big-budget dramas.

As YouTube parent Google looks to ramp up the paid video streaming service to better compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, it is adding six new original series, including one based on the "Step Up" movie franchise, it announced at VidCon.

Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum, who starred in the original movie, are on board as executive producers. The series, coming from Lionsgate TV, will follow dancers in a contemporary performing arts school.

YouTube Red has yet to show that it can compete with Netflix and others, either in terms of a pop-culture breakthrough or paying subscribers. (It has not released subscriber numbers since its introduction last year.)

The ad-free service, which costs $10 per month, has so far been populated with shows from YouTube natives like Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg, whose "Scare PewDiePie" was renewed for a second season.

Other new series include "Rhett & Link's Buddy System," a scripted comedy featuring "Saturday Night Live" alums Molly Shannon and Chris Parnell; a documentary that follows YouTube comedy stars Dan Howell and Phil Lester on their latest world tour; a documentary from Morgan Spurlock, Maker Studios and Shay "ShayCarl" Butler that looks at some of YouTube's biggest creators; an animated comedy staring YouTube creators SeaNanners, TheMrSark and VanossGaming; and an educational series from Vsauce creator Michael Stevens.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said original series and movies are one of the leading drivers of Red subscriptions, "with viewership that rivals similar cable shows." More than half of those watching YouTube Red originals are doing so via mobile phones, she said.

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