With perhaps its boldest bet yet, YouTube is going directly after traditional television advertising dollars with 40 new programs exclusively for the platform. And advertisers appear to be coming back to the fold after brand-safety concerns rocked YouTube several weeks ago.
Tonight, at the digital giant’s BrandCast event in New York, YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl announced that celebrities such as Kevin Hart, Ellen DeGeneres, Ryan Seacrest and Demi Lovato are creating shows. The big pitch to marketers came toward the end of the first week of the Digital Content NewFronts.
“We see these shows as a way for us to partner with you to buck this trend,” Kyncl said.
While around a half dozen of the star-studded shows will be supported by brand sponsorships, more than 30 others will be on YouTube Red, the subscription portion of the platform. Most of the YouTube Red shows will be created by YouTube influencers rather than by mainstream celebrities.
On stage at New York’s Javits Center, Hart announced he’s creating a series called Laugh Out Loud to give future comedians and actors a chance to create their own content and comedy. Speaking during the event, Hart said he’s also creating a fitness show called What the Fit.
Brands are already signing up. Tonight, YouTube announced Johnson & Johnson will sponsor a talent competition called Best Cover Ever produced by Ryan Seacrest. So, J&J has already reversed its stance of cutting budget from YouTube due to the brand-safety concerns that arose in March.
The event—which featured appearances from celebrities like Late Late Show host James Corden, YouTuber Casey Neistat and singer Katy Perry—is an important night for winning over brand marketers. The platform’s reputation has taken a beating lately, with a parade of brands in recent weeks having pulled advertising dollars out of Google after their ads appeared alongside hateful and terrorist content.
During her opening remarks tonight, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki apologized to the hundreds of marketers in the audience.
“We apologize for letting some of you down,” she said. “Thank you for helping us become a stronger and better platform.”