YouTube cuts originals as Susanne Daniels exits

Cobra Kai

YouTube’s global head of original content, Susanne Daniels, has resigned after more than six years at the US-based video-sharing giant, amid an ongoing refocusing of the company’s content strategy.

Veteran TV exec Daniels joined YouTube in 2015 at the launch of the company’s premium SVOD tier and during her time at the Google-owned company, was responsible for building its original content division.

She helped to develop and launch ratings successes such as Step Up and Cobra Kai – the latter now a hit on Netflix – before YouTube eventually stopped airing scripted content and pivoted back to a pure AVOD service. Daniels will formally leave 1 March.

Originals pull-back

News of her imminent departure came hours before YouTube’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl confirmed via Twitter that the streamer would be moving further away from original commissioning.

Susanne Daniels

Kyncl said that YouTube would instead use its originals budget on creator-driven content, with schemes ranging from the Black Voices Fund to the Creator Shorts Fund.

He said Daniels had created “an international slate of award-winning programs collectively amassing billions of views” but added that YouTube’s “rapid growth” had presented “new opportunities” to invest in creator initiatives.

“Together, these factors contributed to our decision to reduce our YouTube Originals slate. Going
forward, we will only be funding programs that are part of our Black Voices and YouTube Kids Funds.”

Kyncl said YouTube would “honour our commitment for already contracted shows in progress”, adding that those involved would hear directly from the company “in the coming days”.

Daniels’ legacy

Daniels, who had started her career in unscripted at NBC, helped to lead this transition and brought in projects such as Will Smith’s Best Shape Of My Life and Michelle Obama’s Creators For Change.

Other projects launched under Daniels’ watch include Dear Class and its sequel Dear Earth, the music series Released and scripted comedy Liza On Demand. She also helmed YouTube’s push for international originals in Europe, Asia and Lat Am.

Step Up

Prior to YouTube, Daniels served as president of The WB, as well as president of Lifetime Television Networks and President of MTV Networks. She helped to develop global hits including The Gilmore Girls, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Dawson’s Creek.

The exec said she has had an “an exciting and tremendous experience” in the role and is now looking forward to “new adventures ahead.”

Kyncl added: “I cannot overstate her division’s overwhelmingly positive impact on YouTube’s eco-system. Her shows engaged YouTube creators and delighted YouTube audiences across the globe, and we are grateful to Susanne for her invaluable leadership over the past seven years.”

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