YouTube Programming Chief Talks Red Rebrand, Experimenting With the Paywall

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YouTube signage seen at the Licensing Expo 2016 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on June 22, 2016 in Las Vegas.

Last summer as she sat before the TV press, YouTube programming chief Susanne Daniels explained that some of her favorite jokes in Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television were about how subscription service YouTube Red sounded more like a porn site.     

Flash forward a year, Daniels was back before the press to explain why YouTube has changed the name from YouTube Red to YouTube Premium. "We valiantly tried," she said of the three-year-old Red before admitting that the name "wasn't sending the message about our offerings.... It wasn't resonating with viewers."    

YouTube announced in May that, as part of the launch of music app YouTube Music, Red would become a bit more expensive and get a new name. "YouTube Premium seems to be working so far for us," Daniels noted.   

Daniels was hired in 2015 to establish a slate of original programming at YouTube that would combine the popularity of homegrown stars with the production values of Hollywood. After an early programming lineup that included mostly YouTube star-fronted projects, the company has expanded more recently into broader far like Cobra Kai and the upcoming space dramedy Origin. But Daniels explained that influencers still have a place on the platform, noting during her prepared remarks that "there's more than enough room for YouTubers and Hollywood stars to succeed at the same time." She also pointed to the just-released Liza on Demand starring Liza Koshy as programming with YouTube stars and later revealed she'd discussed a comedy documentary with popular gamer JackSepticEye, who has recently ventured into stand-up.

YouTube, which has 1.9 billion logged-in users each month, sits at a unique place in the streaming landscape because of its free, ad-supported service. Though most originals are viewable only to those who pay $13 per month for Premium, Daniels said that she's experimenting with how to make content available. For example, Best Shot produced by LeBron James' SpringHill Entertainment, is available to binge via Premium. But nonsubscribers can wait and watch new episodes weekly for free.    

Near the end of her talk, Daniels also took a moment to share her thoughts about Cobra Kai's Emmy nomination in the stunt coordination category. "It's not enough," she said bluntly. "Cobra Kai deserved much more, in my humble opinion."