YouTube is in talks with a number of studios to license film and TV content for its subscription service, Red, as it looks to intensify competition with rivals such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
Executives from YouTube have reportedly met with Hollywood studios and other production companies in recent months to negotiate licenses for brand new content not available elsewhere.
Susanne Daniels, the former programming chief of MTV who joined YouTube in the summer, and Kelly Merryman, an ex-Netflix content executive who joined YouTube late 2014, are involved in the efforts.
If the talks are successful, YouTube’s $9.99-a-month Red service, which currently offers ad-free videos, offline downloads and music streaming, would be better poised to compete with established rivals in Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
As is increasingly becoming the case in the online streaming industry, exclusive content is understood to be a priority for YouTube, with talks focusing on licensing new material. The Alphabet Inc. company has already made its intentions clear on this front with an announcement in October that it plans to release at least 10 of its own movies and series, featuring YouTube stars and beginning in 2016.
The films and TV shows movies may be streamed exclusively on YouTube Red, or could be released through traditional channels like movie theaters, cable networks and DVDs alongside its subscription service.
YouTube’s investment drive will be necessary in order for it to keep pace with competitors. According to RBC Capital Markets analyst, David Bank, Hulu is expected to double spending on content to $1.5bn in order to match Amazon. Bank has also noted that Netflix is planning to boost content spending by nearly 18 per cent to $3.3bn.
Revenue from subscription-based video streaming services is expected to surpass revenue from ad-supported services by 2020, according to Digital TV Research.