YouTube to rival Netflix?

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YOUTUBE IS planning a new slate of ad-supported original programming to start this year, the company announced at the NewFronts conference in New York last week.

The shows – starting with ad-supported programming from Kevin Hart and Ellen DeGeneres – will be free to view and not part of the company’s YouTube Red subscription service.

They are part of a broader push from the Google-owned video site to establish itself as a place for premium programming alongside Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.

In the process, YouTube hopes it will attract premium advertising as well, helping it shed a somewhat tarnished image after a parade of brands recently pulled advertising dollars out of Google as their ads appeared alongside hateful and terrorist content.

During her opening remarks tonight, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki apologised to the hundreds of marketers in the audience.

‘We apologise for letting some of you down,’ she said. ‘Thank you for helping us become a stronger and better platform.’

Hart’s show, ‘Kevin Hart: What the Fit?’ will be a workout-focused program distributed through his own YouTube channel, Laugh Out Loud Network. DeGeneres, on the other hand, will use her show to give fans backstage looks at the making of her talkshow.

Katy Perry and Demi Lovato also announced new behind-the-scenes shows with YouTube at NewFronts, while TV and radio personality Ryan Seacrest is confirmed to be producing a music competition, ‘Best.Cover.Ever’ to debut on the site later this year.

Beyond traditional celebrities, YouTube is leaning on its existing online talent with two shows, one from internet comedy dup Rhett & Link and another from high-speed camera effects specialists The Slow Mo Guys.

According to Bloomberg, YouTube will invest hundreds of millions of dollars over the next year to produce more than 40 new original shows and further build out its YouTube Red service.

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