YouTube has tapped Ben Relles as Head of Innovation, a newly created post and division, as part of the platform’s recent shift in focus on unscripted series and specials. Relles is leaving his previous role as Head of Unscripted, a position he’s held since June 2015, to head up the new division. A replacement for Relles will be announced soon.
In his new role, Relles will provide creative oversight of the YouTube Originals slate to develop interactive programming and live specials that showcase what’s possible on YouTube, including how viewers can interact and participate with content.
Relles will continue to report to Susanne Daniels, Global Head of Original Content, in the new position which is effective immediately.
The newly created Innovation division will focus on developing shows that are driven by interactivity and will also focus on integrating product features across the global slate of scripted and unscripted YouTube Originals.
As Deadline reported last fall, YouTube was temporarily putting the brakes on new scripted development as part of its recent strategy recalibration to put stronger emphasis on unscripted fare. It is part of a larger business model shift at Google’s video platform, which will be moving all YouTube Originals in front of the paywall to be ad-supported, creating a single Originals slate for both AVOD (ad-supported video on demand).
As Head of Unscripted, Relles led development for programming including What the Fit? from Kevin Hart, Mind Field from Michael Stevens, The Jump from Will Smith and Katy Perry: Witness World Wide. In addition he oversaw documentaries such as This is Everything featuring Gigi Gorgeous and Ariana Grande: Dangerous Woman Diaries.
Before joining the YouTube Originals division, Relles served as YouTube’s Global Head of Creative Strategy.
Prior to joining YouTube, Relles was Vice President of Programming at online video leader Next New Networks where he led content strategy as the company built viewership to over 2 billion total views. The company was acquired by YouTube In March 2011.
“We now have amazing new tools and opportunities to create and tell multilayered and interactive stories,” said Susanne Daniels, Global Head of Original Content, YouTube. “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.”