“YouTube plans to produce a half-dozen original series that will be available for free on the world’s most popular video website, a big expansion of the Google-owned company’s programming and efforts to attract advertisers,” Lucas Shaw and Mark Bergen report for Bloomberg. “Comedian Kevin Hart, talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres and the comedy duo Rhett & Link are producing unscripted shows that will debut this year, YouTube will announce at an event for advertisers in New York Thursday. Alphabet Inc.’s Google also will increase its spending on YouTube Red, a paid video and music streaming service launched in October 2015.”

“As more digital rivals venture into high-quality programming, YouTube is feeling pressure to respond, devoting resources to more costly projects and aiming for a wider audience,” Shaw and Bergen report. “The company will fund more than 40 original shows and movies in the next year, spending hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a person familiar with the plans.”

“YouTube’s parent Google reported more than $21 billion in ad sales in the first quarter — more than the entire U.S. TV industry. Google has already captured ad budgets that went to print. Now the company wants a larger share from TV,” Shaw and Bergen report. “The funding of shows with commercials won’t reduce YouTube’s commitment to the $9.99-a-month Red, which doesn’t have ads. The company backed almost 30 programs on Red last year, and plans to spend even more this year and next. YouTube has talked to partners about releasing programs on Red that cost $3 million to $6 million per hour — budgets comparable to HBO and Showtime, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing the private spending plans.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Over-the-top content is really getting interesting now.

Hopefully Apple has a plan regarding where they want to fit in here as their non-4K “hobby” Apple TV was technically inferior the day it launched and their content plans seem confused/nonexistent beyond throwing ever more app icons into the UI and incompletely organizing the mess with their TV app that’s missing major players.

Maybe we’ll finally see some real results from years and years of “pulling the string on Apple TV” at WWDC next month?