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Original Content Starring PewDiePie and Rooster Teeth Premiers on YouTube Red

The YouTube Red experiment continues, but up until now it hasn't really done all that much to grab people's attention. The need for a paid, enhanced YouTube perplexed a lot of people when it was first launched, but in reality it was a means of making YouTube into something beyond a video website, something more akin to a TV network. Think about it, YouTube has as many stars as many major cable or satellite network, and the kind of ratings they can only dream of. With the money and means afforded to them by Google, why wouldn't they capitalise on it?

As such, they've produced 3 feature length films and 1 series, all starring YouTube heavyweights, all going live in America today (February 10th). The first, Lazer Team, is a sci-fi comedy featuring the Rooster Teeth crew, the second is a documentary about comedian Lily Singh called A Trip to Unicorn Island and the third is a musical starring the MCN AwesomenessTV pantheon, imaginatively titled Dance Camp.

The series, meanwhile, is obviously the biggest push, as it surrounds and stars YouTube's golden boy: PewDiePie. Scare PewDiePie is a kind of reality/adventure series which involves placing the eponymous lets player in frightening scenarios inspired by the games he plays. It's been co-produced by the team behind The Walking Dead.

That alone will probably be enough of an insentive for many to start shelling out the $9.99 monthly subscription for the service. Obviously all of PewDiePie's regular videos will continue to be distributed normally, but being able to access more polished, high concept content from him will act as a real incentive for his fans. The fundamental flaw, of course, is that YouTube videos can be, and often are, stolen and uploaded elsewhere.

This issue is compounded by the fact that access to all this content is going to be limited to the US for the time being, which ironically means that fans of PewDiePie in his home nation of Sweden are going to be waiting quite a long time to see his new series, if they play by the book. The other problem is that PewDiePie's output is designed to appeal to gamers, and I'm not certain that many of them will be interested in reality TV, regardless of whether or not gaming inspired it.

The features will probably carry more appeal, Rooster Teeth has a huge fanbase and the idea of seeing them feature in a sci-fi parody, replete with loving references to all the games that feature in their other videos, the Halo series in particular, seems like a good one. Unicorn Island is a no-brainer, seeing a slickly produced chronicle of Lily Singh's wildly successful recent tours is going to appeal enormously to her legion of followers, and Dance Camp basically looks like a cross pollination between Step Up and High School Musical for the millennial generation. I mean, I have no idea who any of those kids are, but I'm sure they're all really popular.

In the long run, I don't think this will justify YouTube Red, it'll be fun for some people to watch their favourite stars in higher budget material, but the appeal of their work largely comes from working within the constraints of typical YouTube fare. PewDiePie has a gaming PC, a webcam and fraps, how much is his appeal going to carry over when he's surrounded by people in zombie makeup, being directed and working from a cue script? People who enjoy YouTube content do so because it's an alternative to TV, not just a different shade of it.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Original Content Starring PewDiePie and Rooster Teeth Premiers on YouTube Red Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Rating: 5

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