As the Coronavirus spread across the world, YouTube promoted the #withme hashtag to help viewers share content that would be useful during the pandemic.
The company’s originals division is now taking that one step forward with a slate of COVID-19 commissions that includes a dance event, a distance learning series and a social media mystery series.
These include Celebrity Substitute, The Creator Games Presented by Mr Beast, Stay At Home With: Yungblud, #MoveWithMe, #StreamWithMe, The Secret Life of Lele Pons, BookTube: Read With Me, Locked Down, Untitled Juanpa and Luisito Project and Create Together #WithMe (full details below).
Susanne Daniels, Global Head of Original Content at YouTube, told Deadline that after YouTube launched the #withme marketing campaign, watch-time “went through the roof” and she wanted to contribute to that.
“When COVID-19 struck and the quarantine began, we had to take all of our traditional shows and put them on ice, anything that required a stage, a crew or a group. We worked with producers of talent and then figured out to move forward,” she added.
Daniels said that a number of its shows were hit by the production shutdown, including the third season of scripted series Liza In Demand. Separately, it pushed the premiere of documentary This Is Paris to the end of the year.
But after working out these challenges, the former MTV exec moved quickly to commission a batch of Coronavirus-friendly projects, shows that could be filmed remotely, working with producers that she had worked with before. She said that the new shows fit into its three development filters and “present a myriad of voices”.
She added that she thinks COVID-19 and the quarantine will have a lasting impact on the entertainment business. “People from all ranges of the entertainment industry and all walks of life, will have a door opened that they know they need to walk through to empower them in a DIY spirit,” she said.
Daniels also addressed the company’s move from SVOD to AVOD, which coincided with the company’s move out of scripted programming. “It wasn’t my idea to switch from SVOD to AVOD but it’s been a resounding success. Our shows have, in the fourth quarter of 2019 an first quarter of 2020, reached a billion views just on the originals slate. Shows are resonating and reaching the right audiences and supporting the YouTube community,” she added.
Celebrity Substitute (May 7)
Celebrities and educators come together to energize distance learning. For instance, Karlie Kloss working through a coding problem and Ken Jeong giving a biology lesson with other stars including Bill Nye, Camila Mendes, Janelle Monáe, and Terry Crews. Produced by B17 Entertainment.
The Secret Life of Lele Pons (May 19)
Five-part series following internet personality and music artist Lele Pons, who shares her struggle with Tourette syndrome and OCD. Produced by Shots Studios Production.
Stream #With Me (April 30)
The UK’s most loved YouTube creators and star share how they are coping with the lockdown experience in a livestream celebration of solidarity. The show will encourage viewers to donate to support NHS Charities Together. It is produced by Endemol Shine’s Electric Robin.
#MoveWith Me (April 29)
Global dance event hosted by choreographer Matt Steffanina with a slew of dancers to provide high-octane performances. Produced by Den of Thieves.
The Creator Games Presented By MrBeast (April 25)
Live event, where YouTube creator MrBeast, who has 34M subscribers, challenges stars to go head to head in a series of stay at home games. Produced by Night Media and Fly On the Wall.
Stay Home With: Yungblud (April 27)
Weekly episodic series following the UK musician who is quarantined at a rental apartment in LA with his manager, videographer and two bandmates as he attempts to shoot a music video, write new songs and stay connected. Produced by Stick Figure Entertainment
BookTube – Read with Me Special (May 21)
Monthly book club creating a special read with me episode featuring John Grisham, James Patterson, Elizabeth Gilbert and Nicholas Sparks sharing their recommendations. Later in June, authors including Dr. Vivek Murthy, former U.S. Surgeon General, Lori Gottlieb, author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, and Haemin Sunim, author of The Things You Can Only See When You Slow Down, discuss anxiety, mental health, and advice for self care. Produced by Boardwalk Pictures.
Create Together #WithMe (May)
Mini-series, hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, inviting friends and families from all over the world who are coping with this unprecedented time of isolation to come together and showcase their creativity and collaboration. Each weekly episode will document the creative process as people find each other online and remotely collaborate on a variety of family friendly projects—short films, short documentaries, music videos, and more. Produced by Brian Graden Media and HITRECORD.
Locked Down (May)
A social media mystery in a social distancing era. The event series follows a group of bored teens working together online to solve a mystery involving one of their neighbors. Shot entirely via webcam and smartphones, the show is produced by Toronto-based Sinking Ship Entertainment.
Untitled Juanpa and Luisito Project (May)
Latin America’s top YouTube creators Juanpa Zurita and Luisito Communica come together for the first time to document the COVID-19 quarantine). Filmed entirely under quarantine with no physical interaction, viewers will hear first hand personal stories from around the globe, including YouTube creators, health specialists, and everyday people as they reflect on their reality. Produced by DW Entertainment & Media.
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